Google’s acquisition of AI tech Jetpac sounds alarms

Better download the City Guides iOS app fast before it goes

jetpac's web site announcement

The news leaked out from San Francisco based, Jetpac, was being acquired by Google way before the search giant confirmed the fact itself. JetPac is an artificial intelligence (AI) firm specialising in deep learning technology. To date, the company has been know for the three apps it offers Apple iOS users via the iTunes app store. The chief of these is City Guides. You’d better download it fast because Jetpac announced on its own web site that it is going to pull the app shortly and stop actively supporting it from September 15th [2014]. That’s one reason to panic. The other concerns Jetpac’s ability to spy on your photos.

Now, loyal GoMo News readers may recall that a while back we wrote a story  ’Danger of cameraphone photos’ location data exposed‘.

That was about a US citizen who took a picture of his girlfriend; posted it online; and then police traced him to Australia and arrested him.

Now, a key part to how Jetpac’s three apps (City Guides, Spotter and Deep Belief) work is photo analysis. City Guides heavily utilises Instagram, for example.

Now it is pretty easy to guess how Google will put Jetpac’s technology to work. On the one hand it will help with visual search.

However, GoMo News strongly suspects that it will be a tremendous tool for profiling individuals from an advertising perspective.

For example, from your holiday snaps it will know that you usually travel to Spain and normally hang out in bars visited by young single people.

There are loads of brands who would want to get their hands on such information.

Other reports say that Jetpac’s tech will be employed for Google services such as Now, Plus and Maps. So advertising isn’t the key use. But it is an important one.

Now, the keen advocates of privacy are going to get very worried about Google knowing where all of their photos were taken.

As GoMo News regular, Geoff Dennis, writes here, location data is frequently hidden in EXIF files.

Geoff describes one tool for use on PCs called Opanda IExif which can remove EXIF information. It’s free and can be obtained from here. We can see a great demand for such a tool as an iOS app, however.

In financial terms, Jetpac was funded by canny VCs including  ex-CEO Jerry Yang, Yahoo!, Khosla Ventures and Morado Venture partners. Indeed Jetpac secured $2.4 million in 2012.

They’ve almost certainly seen a good return on their investment. At the time of writing, no figures had been revealed.

If you’ve got an iOS , Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone or other mobile OS app that can remove EXIF files, please post a comment below.

About Tony Dennis

Tony is currently Editor of GoMobile News. He's a veteran telecoms journalist who has previously worked for major printed and online titles. Follow him on Twitter @GoMoTweet.
This article was published in Financial, Mobile Ad&Mktg, google, iOS and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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