Amazon has filed a patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for technology that could one day scan your face and identify who you are, use visual cues to figure out the kind of work you do, and potentially track you as you move around.
The patent application, which was filed in August 2017 and made public on Thursday, offers insight into Amazon’s possible ambitions for Rekognition — the company’s powerful facial recognition tool that it has aggressively pitched to law enforcement agencies across the US. While a patent application doesn’t necessarily mean that Amazon plans to implement the technology or to integrate it into Rekognition, it does show the company’s keen interest in potentially invasive facial recognition applications, from tracking individuals to entire groups of people.
The technology could, for example, tell that a tracked individual is “Allen Brewer,” based on “facial data” plus “unique identifiers” that make it clear it is identifying a specific Allen Brewer using, say, his residence. Brewer could then be classified as, for instance, an accountant, after the system “[evaluates] the clothing that the individual is wearing, [identifies] the individual as Allen Brewer and then [determines] that Allen Brewer is an accountant,” according to the patent.
When a certain object or person is being tracked, the patent says the technology could make use of metadata to add even more details to what it knows about the individual, and it could update identity information for that person; associations would be “maintained and monitored over time.” It could detect uniforms that connect an individual to a particular group, “such as a law enforcement officer or a member of a sports team,” the patent says. (Amazon did not respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.)