Octi is a new AR-powered social network that will let you become friends with other users by pointing your phone camera at them and sending a friend request

  • New iOS and Android app will use facial recognition software to make friends
  • Users can select a variety of custom icons for their profiles, which will hover around them inside of an augmented reality interface
  • Friends can read each others profiles by pointing their phones at one another
  • New friends are added by pointing your camera at them and sending a request 

This week, a new AR-centric social networking app launched, which will let users pull up their friends’ profiles by pointing their smartphone camera at them.

Called Octi, the app will let people make a personal profile by choosing photos, favorite songs from Spotify, fun links from YouTube, and sticker-like custom messages.

These details won’t fill out a boxy user profile. Instead, they’ll hover around you as a halo of thumbnail-sized icons whenever someone with the app on their phone points their camera at you.

A new AR-powered social network called Octi will let users interact with their friends by aiming their phone cameras at each other

A new AR-powered social network called Octi will let users interact with their friends by aiming their phone cameras at each other

Octi uses facial recognition software to identify whether someone you point your camera at has a profile, and will automatically pull it up as an AR overlay if you’re already connected as friends.

The app will also let you add new friends by pointing your camera at someone and then send them a friend request, so long as they have a profile with Octi.

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The idea for the app came from Justin Fuisz, Octi’s CEO, who wanted to create a social network that was more about in-person experiences instead of solitary scrolling through a web browser.

‘I want people to use [Octi] when they’re together, sitting on that couch or wherever, and they would typically ignore each other and take out Instagram,’ he told CNN.

‘I want them to use it to connect, to communicate, express culture, share music, brands — all this fun stuff that people are already doing in other ways, but I want them to do it in the real world, when they’re together.’

Octi CEO Justin Fuisz says he hopes people will use the app 'when they're together, sitting on that couch or wherever, and they would typically ignore each other and take out Instagram.’'

Octi CEO Justin Fuisz says he hopes people will use the app ‘when they’re together, sitting on that couch or wherever, and they would typically ignore each other and take out Instagram.’’

The app was initially tested with several thousand high school students around Los Angeles, before being released on the App Store and Google Play this Wednesday

The app was initially tested with several thousand high school students around Los Angeles, before being released on the App Store and Google Play this Wednesday

Users can add friends on Octi by pointing their phone camera at new people and sending a friend request

Users can add friends on Octi by pointing their phone camera at new people and sending a friend request

Fuisz says the app could eventually connect with a wider variety of outside apps, like Venmo-style payment software or dating apps, which would be integrated into the AR profile view as interactive icons.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AR AND VR?

Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of an environment or situation

  • It immerses the user by making them feel like they are in the simulated reality throughimages and sounds
  • For example, in VR, you could feel like you’re climbing a mountain while sat at home
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In contrast, augmented reality layers computer-generated images on top of an existing reality

  • AR is developed into apps to bring digital components into the real world
  • For example, in the Pokemon Go app, the characters seem to appear in real world scenarios

The company made it to launch with the help of $12million from a number of tech investors, including InBev, Live Nation, and Josh Kushner, presidential adviser Jared Kushner’s younger brother.

Fuisz says he tested the app with several thousand high school students in and around Los Angeles, where the company is based.

The company promises it will respect users’ privacy and personal data, but it’s not yet clear how. 

It’s also unclear what protections will be afforded to people who are filmed, tagged, or identified by Octi users without knowing or consenting, something that is an issue for a variety of software applications that use facial recognition.

‘I’m concerned about the fact that facial recognition is being used,’ Engin Kirda, a cybersecurity expert at Northeastern University, told CNN, ‘and I’m concerned that you can point the camera at a person and their name could pop up.’

The app is currently available on iOS and Android.

HOW DOES FACIAL RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY WORK?

Facial recognition software works by matching real time images to a previous photograph of a person. 

Each face has approximately 80 unique nodal points across the eyes, nose, cheeks and mouth which distinguish one person from another. 

A digital video camera measures the distance between various points on the human face, such as the width of the nose, depth of the eye sockets, distance between the eyes and shape of the jawline.

This produces a unique numerical code that can then be linked with a matching code gleaned from a previous photograph.

A facial recognition system used by officials in China connects to millions of CCTV cameras and uses artificial intelligence to pick out targets.

Experts believe that facial recognition technology will soon overtake fingerprint technology as the most effective way to identify people. 

 



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