SparkOptimus News Highlights – Week 15

At SparkOptimus, we try to highlight the most important news and background stories in digital, e-commerce and retail. Here is our selection of last week’s news:

While facial recognition software is helping officers of the US Customs to catch look-a-likes, many people still feel it is a scary technology. This might be because it is going mainstream and affecting our society more and more. Not only do large retailers – such as John Lewis – use it to make their customers lives easier, even Apple is considering using facial recognition to unlock mobile devices. The technology also turns out to be interesting for the payments industry. Alibaba has started using facial recognition to let customers pay for products online, while American Express announced this Thursday it is working on integrating the technology in its financial apps. Facial recognition is also likely to revolutionize other industries such as the dating industry. As Fortune imagines: “Have a thing for Brad Pitt circa 1998? Here are the 500 profiles that look the most like him.”

Not everyone is that excited though, as Facebook was sued this week for collecting facial recognition data, which is used to give tag suggestions when users upload photos. Also Eric Schmidt is cautious: “Facial recognition, completely unmonitored, can be used for very bad things. It can be used for stalking, for example”. That’s not without reason: it is still easy to fool facial recognition software.

By the way, although there is discussion around the benefits of the Apple Watch, pre-order started today. And it’s gone.