Google Glass & Facial Recognition: Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

Approximately two years ago I was walking through CTIA looking for something different. You see, I’ve attended CTIA every year since 2001 and for a while it seemed as though the exhibitors were all showing similar offerings.

But that all changed when I met Jason Mitura, Chief Product Officer of the company Viewdle. Viewdle you see, was using augmented reality and proprietary facial recognition software to append social media data through mobile cameras. Jason took me through a demonstration and my mind was blown. I figured that this was the future of pervasive media and the demise of privacy all in one product. Image

I left CTIA excited to continue the conversation with Jason but then one thing lead to another and a few months go by. Then *poof* they’re gone.

Out of business? Hardly.

Viewdle, was bought by Google. Maybe you’ve heard of them?

So fast forward to today, where Google Glass is now the topic of either admiration or disgust depending on which side of the fence you’re on. Amidst the controversy surrounding form, function and adoption – privacy has seemed to fall of the radar in terms of a point of discussion.

Well Google didn’t wait for the press to come knocking on their door, taking a very assertive stance yesterday through their blog on facial recognition:

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. 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.

I’ve been a proponent of Glass since I first heard it was coming to market. In its current construct I admittedly voiced skepticism – future applications however I can’t help but smile at what we’ll see developed. One thing is for certain however – Google has the technology to add a deeper layer of engagement that could change how we perceive PII but they have proven quite successfully that just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

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