The founder of a controversial facial recognition app has said people can use his technology to find a girlfriend or boyfriend who looks like their ex.

Artem Kuharenko is the chief executive of NtechLab, the firm behind FindFace which can search billions of photographs in less than a second to try to find a person you’ve just snapped on the street on social media.

Launched earlier this year, the app scans users on Russian social network Vkontakte to find the exact person, or those who look similar, based on the picture. One million users have already used it.

Speaking to BusinessCloud from Moscow, he said that he sees uses for the tech outside finding old friends and criminals.

“An entertainment use could be dating,” he said. “Someone could find a potential girlfriend or boyfriend who looked like their ex, or a famous person.”

The app takes measurements from unchanging facial features such as eye shape and size, and lip shape, discounting those features that can change due to age, facial expression or when that person is wearing glasses.

FindFaceFindFace
FindFace app

The algorithm recognises faces in a more sophisticated way, picking up many more subtle features that are not perceptible to the human brain and creating an index of numbers for the face.

It has already been used in a Russian music festival where photographers spent the day snapping guests.

“At the end of the day, anyone who was there could upload a selfie onto the system and it would bring up all the photographs of them, rather than them having to go through every photograph that was taken,” Kuharenko added.

NtechLabNtechLab
The app in action

He also suggested the tech could be used as a way of authorising transactions in a bank branch or while using mobile banking.

It could even be used internally by businesses as a way of accurately tracking time management.

Founded last May, the company launched FindFace seven months later and has gone from three founders, who built the core technology, to a workforce of 20. There are plans to take on another 50 in the coming year.

“We have more than 400 clients who want our solution, many who are coming up with some interesting applications for the technology on their own,” Kuharenko said.

“They’re saying ‘can you do this with the technology?’ and we’re saying ‘yes, we can’.

“We have the best accuracy and speed of large data sets and we’re improving our algorithms all the time so we can build interesting projects.

“Our team is growing so fast and it’s very interesting and exciting – we’ve been very surprised at how fast things are moving.”

Matt Miller, sales manager at Hotel Gotham in Manchester, told a BusinessCloud breakfast event that his kitsch hotel uses facial recognition tech to give guests a personalised hotel experience.

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