Identification: Digital, P.I.

They can pick you out in a crowd, track what you buy--and maybe save your life

Pamela Lipson can be forgiven for sounding a bit like the announcer in that classic comedy sketch who praises a new miracle foam: Shimmer is a floor wax! And a dessert topping! Get Lipson going, and the 36-year-old co-founder and president of Imagen will gush about how her product can distinguish faces in a crowd, recommend makeup, diagnose diseases and spot imperfections on a circuit board. What Lipson's six-year-old company--a spin-off of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.)--really does is make software that can find subtle similarities and differences in images of, well, just about anything. Imagen, based in Cambridge, Mass.,...

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