The company’s tech started as a research project at the Carnegie-Mellon University Robotics Institute — its name is a play on Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition. The company’s software identifies facial structures in photos and tracks them in videos.

As the company’s homepage points out, many Google products such as Image Search, Picasa and Goggles already use computer vision technology.

“The Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition team has developed innovative technology in the area of pattern recognition and computer vision. We think their research and technology can benefit our users in many ways, and we look forward to working with them,” Google said in a statement about the deal.

Google has been treading lightly on facial recognition, given the privacy concerns that surround the issue.

In March, the company denied a report from CNN claiming that it was working on a project that would link an individual’s face to his or her personal information on Google. CNN stood by its report.

When asked about this latest acquisition, Google spokesman Chris Gaither said in a statement, “We’ve said that we won’t add face recognition to our apps or product features unless we have strong privacy protections in place, and that’s still the case.”

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