Wearable Tech World Feature Article
December 19, 2013

Facial Recognition Comes to Google Glass via Unauthorized App

One of the more obvious uses of Google Glass is to use it for facial recognition, and yet it’s a feature that has been noticeably absent from the device’s repertoire since its launch. Put simply, this is because, as Forbes put it, the feature would be a ‘privacy nightmare’ and Google, despite its long history infringing on its users’ privacy, agrees. Of course, this hasn’t stopped one third-party developer from implementing the capability himself.

Indeed, Stephen Balaban, founder of the start-up Lambda Labs, plans to introduce facial recognition to Glass at the Chaos Communications Congress hacker conference in Hamburg later in the month. The unauthorized app, called FaceRec, will allow Glass users to collect and catalogue images of any face caught within Google Glass’ lens, as well as other recognizable objects, including computer screens and license plates.

If that wasn’t enough to set privacy advocates on edge, all of these images can be integrated with location coordinates to effectively create a map of what users see and where. Furthermore, Lambda Labs has also started taking pre-orders on a device called the Lambda Hat dedicated solely to this purpose.

This isn’t the first time functionality that Google doesn’t want on its flagship wearable device has appeared. Earlier in December, a three-person team called Silica Labs brought RSS to Google Glass via an app called Wearably. Of course, on-the-go RSS access and wholesale facial image collection are on completely different levels, so it’s no surprise Google is treating the two apps quite differently.

While Wearably will likely be welcomed into the Glassware app store with open arms, any and all facial recognition software is forbidden from the market. As such, FaceRec must be sideloaded onto Google Glass — a process most of the millions of smart glasses users expected to pop up in the years to come likely won’t know how to do.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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