Uber India will introduce its facial recognition-based Real Time ID check feature for its India app in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata, with more cities to follow soon, according to a report by Tech 2. Real Time ID check prompts drivers to take a selfie before they access the app or accepts a ride, which is then matched with their photo stored on Uber's servers. If the images do not match, the driver's account will be temporarily suspended as the matter is investigated. The security measure is intended to ensure that driver's biometric details are constantly being scrutinized while preventing drivers and their accounts from being compromised by fraudsters. In addition, the feature reassures passengers that the Uber driver on the app is, in fact, the same person who is picking them up. "This prevents fraud and protects drivers' accounts from being compromised," said Joe Sullivan, chief security officer at Uber. "It also protects riders by building another layer of accountability into the app to ensure the right person is behind the wheel.
The Indian government plans to decongest its airports by introducing facial recognition technology next year - a proposal that may once again raise privacy concerns in the South Asian country. India's ministry of civil aviation on Thursday said passengers on domestic flights will be able to choose to use their biometric authentication system and go paperless. "Security will benefit from the ability of the technology to verify the passenger at every checkpoint in a non-intrusive way," ministry secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey said in a statement. The proposal says passengers would be verified by being photographed at every stage of the check-in process - from entering the airport to proceeding through security and boarding the plane. The India government statement said the biometric technology will be introduced first at Bengaluru and Hyderabad airports by February next year, followed by Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune and Vijayawada by April.
India has just 144 police officers for every 100,000 citizens, compared to 318 per 100,000 citizens in the European Union. In recent years, authorities have turned to facial recognition technology to make up for the shortfall. New Delhi's law enforcement agencies adopted the technology in 2018, and it's also being used to police large events and fight crime in a handful of other states, including Andhra Pradesh and Punjab. But India's government now has a much more ambitious plan. It wants to construct one of the world's largest facial recognition systems.
Google LLC today updated its Cloud Text-to-Speech service with new languages and voices in order to make it useful to more of its customers. Google Cloud Text-to-Speech is intended to help companies develop better conversational interfaces for the services they supply. It works by transforming written text into artificial speech that's spoken in realistic human voices. With the service, Google is targeting three main markets: voice response systems for call centers; "internet of things" products such as car infotainment systems, TVs and robots; and applications such as podcasts and audiobooks, which convert text into speech. In a blog post, Google product manager Dan Aharon said Cloud Text-to-Speech is getting 12 new languages or variants, including Czech, English (India), Filipino, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Mandarin Chinese (China), Modern Standard Arabic and Vietnamese.