Google rules out facial recognition for Google Glass

June 3, 2013 - 

Google has officially said that it will not add facial recognition features to Google Glass, following both interest and concern for the integration of the biometric technology into the device.

“When we started the Explorer Program nearly a year ago our goal was simple: we wanted to make people active participants in shaping the future of this technology ahead of a broader consumer launch.  We’ve been listening closely to you, and many have expressed both interest and concern around the possibilities of facial recognition in Glass,” Project Glass shared on its Google Plus + page Friday. “As Google has said for several years, we won’t add facial recognition features to our products without having strong privacy protections in place. With that in mind, we won’t be approving any facial recognition Glassware at this time.”

Early adopters are starting to get their hands on Google Glass, though as of yet, the device isn’t widely available. Seeing as it’s a wearable computer which sits on the user’s face, facial recognition and object recognition – as users look at people or objects – is an obvious application, though this idea has ruffled some feathers in the privacy community.

Recently, members of Congress wrote a letter to Google’s Chief Executive, Larry Page, asking questions about whether Google Glass will “infringe on the privacy of the average American.” This letter contained eight listed questions, and among them was whether the wearable device will have facial recognition capabilities.

As we reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, Lambda Labs, a San Francisco startup, ispreparing to release a facial recognition API for developers working on apps for Google Glass.

In a statement in the New York Times, Steve Lee, the director of product management for Google Glass said, “we’ve consistently said that we won’t add new face recognition features to our services unless we have strong privacy protections in place.”

China’s largest search engine, Baidu, is reported developing digital eyewear similar to the Google glass project, though this Chinese iteration reportedly leverages Baidu’s strengths in facial recognition. 

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About Adam Vrankulj

Adam Vrankulj is an editor for BiometricUpdate.com. His background consists of online news writing, editing and content marketing. Adam has written for CBCNews.ca, BlogTO and was the editor and curator for the nextMEDIA and CIX Source publications. He has a degree in journalism and is passionate about science, technology and social innovation. Contact Adam, or follow him at @adamvrankulj