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PimEyes: An alarmingly accurate face search engine that anyone can use – Business Standard



For $29.99 a month, a website called PimEyes offers a potentially dangerous superpower from the world of science fiction: The ability to search for a face, finding obscure photos that would otherwise have been as safe as the proverbial needle in the vast digital haystack of the internet.

A search takes mere seconds. You upload a photo of a face, check a box agreeing to the terms of service and then get a grid of photos of faces deemed similar, with links to where they appear on the internet. The New York Times used PimEyes on the faces of a dozen Times journalists, with their consent, to test its powers.

PimEyes found photos of every person, some that the journalists had never seen before, even when they were wearing sunglasses or a mask, or their face was turned away from the camera, in the image used to conduct the search.

PimEyes found one reporter dancing at an art museum event a decade ago, and crying after being proposed to, a photo that she didn’t particularly like but that the photographer had decided to use to advertise his business on Yelp. A tech reporter’s younger self was spotted in an awkward crush of fans at the Coachella music festival in 2011. A foreign correspondent appeared in countless wedding photos, evidently the life of every party, and in the blurry background of a photo taken of someone else at a Greek airport in 2019. A journalist’s past life in a rock band was unearthed, as was another’s preferred summer camp getaway.

Unlike Clearview AI, a similar facial recognition tool available only to law enforcement, PimEyes does not include results from social media sites. The sometimes surprising images that PimEyes surfaced came instead from news articles, wedding photography pages, review sites, blogs and pornography sites. Most of the matches for the dozen journalists’ faces were correct.

For the women, the incorrect photos often came from pornography sites, which was unsettling in the suggestion that it could be them. (To be clear, it was not them.)

A tech executive who asked not to be identified said he used PimEyes fairly regularly, primarily to identify people who harass him on Twitter and use their real photos on their accounts but not their real names. Another PimEyes user who asked to stay anonymous said he used the tool to find the real identities of actresses from pornographic films, and to search for explicit photos of his Facebook friends.

The new owner of PimEyes is Giorgi Gobronidze, a 34-year-old academic who says his interest in advanced technology was sparked by Russian cyberattacks on his home country, Georgia.

Gobronidze said he believed that PimEyes could be a tool for good, helping people keep tabs on their online reputation.

“It’s stalkerware by design no matter what they say,” said Ella Jakubowska, a policy adviser at European Digital Rights, a privacy advocacy group.

‘Essentially extortion’

A few months back, Cher Scarlett, a computer engineer, tried out PimEyes for the first time and was confronted with a chapter of her life that she had tried hard to forget.

In 2005, when Scarlett was 19 and broke, she considered working in pornography. She traveled to New York City for an audition that was so abusive that she abandoned the idea.

PimEyes unearthed the trauma, with links to where exactly the explicit photos could be found on the web. “I had no idea up until that point that those images were on the internet,” she said.

When she clicked on one of the explicit photos on PimEyes, a menu popped up offering a link to the image, a link to the website where it appeared and an option to “exclude from public results” on PimEyes.

But exclusion, Ms. Scarlett quickly discovered, was available only to subscribers who paid for “PROtect plans,” which cost from $89.99 to $299.99 per month. “It’s essentially extortion,” said Scarlett, who eventually signed up for the most expensive plan.

But when The Times ran a PimEyes search of Scarlett’s face with her permission a month later, there were more than 100 results, including the explicit ones.

Gobronidze said that this was a “sad story”. Instead, it blocks from PimEyes’s search results any photos of faces “with a high similarity level” at the time of the opt-out, meaning people need to regularly opt out, with multiple photos of themselves. Gobronidze said he wanted “ethical usage” of PimEyes. But PimEyes does little to enforce this, beyond a box that a searcher must click asserting that the face being uploaded is their own.

There are users Gobronidze doesn’t want. He recently blocked people in Russia from the site, in solidarity with Ukraine. He mentioned that PimEyes was willingto offer its service for free to organisations, if it could help in the search for missing persons.

A German data protection agency announced an investigation into PimEyes.

Gobronidze said he had not heard from any German authorities. “I am eager to answer all of the questions they might have,” he said. He is not concerned about privacy regulators, he said, because PimEyes operates differently.

He described it as almost being like a digital card catalog, saying the company does not store photos or individual face templates but rather URLs for individual images associated with the facial features they contain.

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Xiaomi 12S debuts Leica partnership and 1-inch camera sensor, but won’t launch outside of China – 9to5Google



Xiaomi today launched its latest flagship Android smartphone in the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, but this one is exclusive to the Chinese market.

The Xiaomi 12S lineup consists of three devices, the Xiaomi 12S, 12S Pro, and 12S Ultra.

All three devices share a camera partnership with Leica, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, and a high-end package overall. But each device is a bit different.

Looking at the base model, Xiaomi 12S has a 6.28-inch FHD+ display, 8GB or 12GB of RAM, and 128/256/512GB of storage. The phone is powered by a 4,500 mAh battery with wired fast-charging up to 67W and wirelessly up to 50W. The camera array consists of a 50MP primary sensor backed up by a 13MP ultrawide and 5MP telephoto lens.

Moving over to the “Pro” model, there’s a slightly larger 6.73-inch display and 4,600 mAh battery (120W wired, 50W wireless), and also includes a camera upgrade. There are three 50MP sensors for standard, ultrawide, and telephoto focal lengths. Both phones also have a 32MP selfie camera.

Both also carry co-branding from Leica, an established camera brand that previously lent its name to Huawei. Xiaomi says the cameras on these phones were “co-engineered” with Leica.

The display also jumps up to an LPTO AMOLED panel at 120Hz, in contrast to the standard 120Hz AMOLED on the lower model.

There’s also a version of the Xiaomi 12S Pro that uses MediaTek’s Dimensity 9000+ chipset instead of Qualcomm’s.

xiaomi 12s pro

But the real point of attraction here is with the flagship Xiaomi 12S Ultra. This top-tier smartphone is focused primarily on being the ultimate piece of mobile camera hardware.

Alongside the core specs – Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, 8/12GB RAM, 256/512GB storage, 6.73-inch QHD+ AMOLED display, 67W charging, IP68 water-resistant – Xiaomi is using Sony’s IMX989 50.3MP camera sensor which is a huge 1-inch sensor. Sony just announced the IMX989 last month, and it’s one of the biggest camera sensors for mobile devices ever produced. Of course, it’s not the first either, as we’ve seen 1-inch sensors in a few previous devices. The big benefit to such a large physical sensor is better bokeh and light capture. Results will typically look closer to what a traditional point-and-shoot camera is capable of – Sony itself uses a 1-inch sensor in its RX100 series.

Lecia steps in to bolster the sensor with the 8P element lens and its coating. There are also special “Leica Authentic Look” and “Leica Vibrant Look” options in the software.

Beyond that primary sensor, though, Xiaomi 12S Ultra also packs a 48MP periscope telephoto lens and a 48MP sensor used for ultrawide shots.

xiaomi 12s ultra

The Xiaomi 12S Ultra is also the first Android phone to support Dolby Vision HDR recording with 10-bit h.265 videos that can be captured in HLG.

All three devices ship with Android 12 and Xiaomi’s MIUI 13.

The real catch here for folks outside of China, though, is that Xiaomi has no plans to launch the phone globally. Xiaomi usually launches an international version of its flagship smartphones for Europe and other parts of Asia, but that won’t be the case this time around, as Richard Lei of Engadget China reports.

Pricing for the Xiaomi 12S family starts at CNY 4,000 for the 12S, CNY 4,700 for the Pro, and CNY 5,999 for the Ultra.

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Asus ROG Phone 6, 6 Pro Gaming Phones Take Samsung's OLED to a 165Hz Refresh Rate – CNET



Asus debuted two new gaming phones Tuesday, the ROG Phone 6 and ROG Phone 6 Pro, which feature the newest Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor and a Samsung AMOLED display capable of running at a 165Hz refresh rate. Alongside the phones, the AeroActive Cooling 6 accessory that clips onto the line claims to both reduce temperatures by up to 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees F) from the back of the phone while including tactile shoulder buttons.

Both phones also include a 6,000-mAh battery with 65-watt charging, and additional sensors that add gaming controls through the phone’s gyroscope as well as along the phone’s corners. They also each include a 50-megapixel main camera, 13-megapixel ultrawide camera and 5-megapixel macro camera. Both phones also include a 12-megapixel front camera.


The Asus AeroActive Cooler 6.


The main differences between the standard 6 and the 6 Pro come with its storage and memory options: The 6 starts with 256GB of storage with models that include 8GB and 12GB of RAM, while the 6 Pro includes 512GB of storage and 18GB of RAM. The Pro also has a second display on the back that can show notifications, system information and animations. The 6 instead gets a LED logo that can be customized to light up for different situations.

These are all specs that — like other gaming phones — are meant to prioritize power and performance in order to get the most out of Android games. The battery in particular is especially notable and its 6,000mAH capacity matches last year’s Asus ROG Phone 5. That phone has one of the longest battery lives that we’ve seen on an Android phone, according to CNET reviewer Patrick Holland, and was accomplished through two 3,000-mAh batteries. Last year’s phone also had a very fast 144Hz screen though, and this year’s even faster 165Hz screen might affect how quickly it burns through a charge.

Having that 165Hz screen should also make animations extremely smooth, especially for games that are capable of supporting that threshold. I found during my review of the RedMagic 7, which also has a 165Hz refresh rate, that only some Android games support that right now since most phones cap out at a 120Hz refresh rate. For most people, 120Hz is plenty smooth enough, but for the gaming crowd this phone is targeted toward, 165Hz does bring out a bit more precision in what you can see.

Release dates aren’t yet available, but both phones are set to first arrive in Europe at 999 euros (roughly $1,024; £858; AU$1,510) for the 6 and 1,299 euros for the Pro. This puts them well into flagship territory in terms of pricing, and an uptick over last year’s ROG Phone 5, which started at 799 euros.

While we would need to wait for a hands-on with the phone in order to check out the Snapdragon chip in the phone, this latest chip along with the higher refresh-rate display on a Samsung-made display are intriguing as they both could eventually end up in more mainstream phones down the line.

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The Morning After: Xiaomi's flagship phone has a Leica camera with a massive one-inch sensor – Yahoo Canada Finance



Just six months after its last flagship launch, Xiaomi has announced another one. The Xiaomi 12S Ultra packs a massive one-inch, 50.3-megapixel Sony IMX989 main sensor. And unlike the Sony Xperia Pro-I, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra apparently uses the entirety of its one-inch sensor. And the camera unit itself? Well, it looks gigantic.



Inside, there’s a Leica Summicron 1:1.9-4.1 / 13-120 ASPH camera system that combines three rear cameras: a 50.3-megapixel main camera (23mm, f/1.9), along with the 48-megapixel ultra-wide camera (13mm, f/2.2) and the 48-megapixel periscopic camera (120mm, f/4.1). Both 48-megapixel cameras use a half-inch Sony IMX586 sensor. The circular camera island (continent?) has a special coating to mitigate lens glare and improve image consistency. Oh, and there’s a 23K gold rim as well. Because excess.

The Xiaomi 12S Ultra is now available for pre-ordering in China, ahead of retail launch on July 6th. The 12S Ultra starts at 5,999 yuan (around $900).

Leica has spread its bets over the years in mobile imaging partnerships. It has previously collaborated with Sharp, Huawei and Panasonic — Chinese phone makers are quick to pal up with renowned photography brands. In late 2020, Vivo joined forces with Zeiss, while Oppo and OnePlus released handsets jointly developed with Hasselblad.

The result has, broadly, meant better smartphone cameras from these companies looking to go toe-to-toe with the iPhones and Galaxy Ss of this world.

— Mat Smith

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Amazon starts making deliveries by e-bike and on foot in London

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HBO Max halts original productions across large parts of Europe

Part of cost-cutting measures following its split from AT&T.

HBO Max is halting original productions across much of Europe, according to Variety. The streaming service confirmed it’ll no longer produce originals in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Central Europe, the Netherlands and Turkey, leaving only Spain and France untouched. The step is part of a plan from parent Warner Bros. Discovery to cut some $3 billion in costs following its split from AT&T.

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