The Google Arts and Culture platform hosts images of millions of pieces of art, ranging from prehistory to the contemporary. The app, which first appeared in app stores back in 2016, has mostly gone under the radar until now.
Recently Google Arts and Culture added new facial scanning features, allowing people to connect with art by way of a selfie. In the app, after you upload your Museum Selfie, Google Arts and Culture uses facial recognition technology to match it with a classical work of art. Once a match is found, it returns the percentage of visual similarity between the user’s face and the art—with varying degrees of success. However, the fact that celebrities are using the app and sharing their art doppelgängers has helped it skyrocket in popularity.
According to Google, the aim behind this app is to engage users in finding out more about the world’s different cultures. Google’s database has more than 80,000 works of art curated from more than 6,000 museums in over 70 countries.
If you’re wondering, Google says that it doesn’t use your selfie for anything else and only keeps it for the time it takes to search for matches. But everywhere you look, facial recognition is on the rise.
Along with Google, Facebook is rolling out facial recognition to notify you if your face pops up in your friends’ photos—even if they haven’t tagged you. In Canada, airports are using the technology at border crossings. And in China, bathrooms are using it to prevent the theft of toilet paper and jay-walking.
The Google Arts and Culture app is now available in Canada on both iOS and Android, after releasing in the US last week. Shortly after, the app beat out long-standing top ranking apps like Messenger and YouTube. Check out a demo of how the app works in the video below:
Search art with your selfie: A Google Arts and Culture experiment