Published May 28, 2013
Google won’t -- but they will.
Amid growing privacy concerns and repeated statements from Google that its futuristic wearable computer can’t recognize faces, a California software developer has done just that, releasing facial recognition software for Google Glass.
Lambda Labs software lets anyone wearing Google Glass look up faces in a crowd against a computer database, instantly showing someone’s name and any other vital bits of data contained in the app. And even the app developer acknowledges the implications for privacy.
“We have no plans to provide a global facial recognition database,” Stephen Balaban, founder of Lambda Labs, told FoxNews.com. “That’s probably not a good idea.”
Instead, Balaban’s technology is an API intended to allow other software developers working with early versions of Glass to write their own apps. Those software developers will provide databases of faces, which Glass will use to identify a face in a photo. Picture a doctor with 1,000 patients who could quickly look up the name and medical history of his patients while doing rounds, thanks to a custom medical app using the tech.
But Lambda Labs will put out its own app around the consumer launch of Glass to show off the technology, Balaban said.
“There isn’t much point in putting out an app at present; pretty much no one has Glass,” Balaban told FoxNews.com.
Google Glass is an entire computer baked into a pair of glasses eyeglasses that’s set to be released to the mainstream market sometime next year. The gadget has been drawing fire from Congress and a confused public, worried about what the gadget can and can’t do -- and what wearers will know about people they encounter.
Earlier this month, eight members of Congress demanded answers from the company about such privacy concerns, in particular raising the issue of facial recognition.
Steve Lee, director of product management for Google Glass, addressed the question directly: “We’ve consistently said that we won’t add new face recognition features to our services unless we have strong privacy protections in place,” he said.
Various representatives of the company have echoed that opinion in conversations with FoxNews.com over the past month as well.
The privacy concerns from a public unclear about the gadget's power have cast an odd pall on an otherwise remarkable device, noted TechCrunch.
"The fact that few people have tried Glass also means that there are plenty of these myths around that, over time, become unquestioned by those who haven’t tried it."