Google has acquired PittPatt, and no that's not Globochem's Pit-Pat. It's Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition, a research company working on facial recognition technology.
A message on PittPatt's website reads:
We are happy to announce that Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition has been acquired by Google!
Joining Google is the next thrilling step in a journey that began with research at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute in the 1990s and continued with the launching of Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition (PittPatt) in 2004. We've worked hard to advance the research and technology in many important ways and have seen our technology come to life in some very interesting products. At Google, computer vision technology is already at the core of many existing products (such as Image Search, YouTube, Picasa, and Goggles), so it's a natural fit to join Google and bring the benefits of our research and technology to a wider audience. We will continue to tap the potential of computer vision in applications that range from simple photo organization to complex video and mobile applications.
We look forward to joining the team at Google!
The team at Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition
Facial recognition isn't exactly new territory for Google, but clearly there's room for improvement. Late last year, Facebook also launched a facial recognition feature for when photos are uploaded.
Google needs every weapon at its disposal if it wants to take on Facebook head on with Google+. The Instant Upload feature of the Android app is a good start (though it would be more helpful if it was also in the iPhone app).
Of course, as pointed out by PittPatt, there are plenty of other products where Google can use this as well.