Viewdle, a Palo Alto-based facial recognition company, is bringing its technology to mobile gaming through a new augmented reality RPG on Android called Third Eye.
While facial recognition might easily lend itself to a security or enterprise-focused business, Viewdle chose to pursue a consumer-oriented route with a series of experimental apps. This one is the second, following a Social Camera app that can tag friend’s faces.
“We wanted to put forward the idea that computer vision, which involves massive processing power, can happen on your phone,” said Marisol MacGregor, the head of product management and marketing for the company. “We figured out how to take all of this facial recognition technology and compress it into a 15 megabyte app.”
In the steampunk-styled app, players can either be vampires or slayers. The app uses facial recognition technology to assign players to either side based on their facial structure. Slayers apparently have slightly more symmetrical faces. When players from one side run into players from the other, they can attack or feed off each other. A progress bar will appear, showing their energy level. If a player accumulates enough energy, they can convert other players into their army, making it large enough so that they can defend against attacks.
In another part of the game, Third Eye assigns players to a clan (kind of like how in the Harry Potter Series, a Sorting Hat placed students in one of four houses at the sorcery school they attended). Once part of a team, players can feed off enemies on the opposite side and accumulate an army.
There will be two other extensions of the app that will come out later this year, adding extra gameplay. The second part will add missions, getting players to run around the real world to collect items in augmented reality.
All of the initial apps will be free, just to prove the technology and consumer appeal. At some point though, Viewdle might add virtual goods, which can be purchased inside the app. Third-party developers can pay to license the technology for their games, but at this point there isn’t any free API access that Viewdle is offering for experimentation.
Two other things to note: Viewdle didn’t outsource the development of the game, but instead hired in a team of longtime game designers from Uruguay at the end of last year and then built the app in 2 1/2 months. All of the facial recognition data is stored locally on the phone and isn’t transmitted to servers, so MacGregor argues that this is a net positive for user privacy.