Google Glass makes some people feel rather uncomfortable. The biggest concern seems to stem from the idea that Google Glass will eliminate more of our privacy with facial recognition software and the like. Despite Google banning such software on Glass, some developers are already working on privacy solutions.
Japan’s National Institute of Informatics has unveiled what it calls privacy visor glasses. The glasses, which admittedly look far sillier than Google Glass, are equipped with near-infrared LEDs that emit a blinding light when viewed through a camera. Here’s how its inventor describes it:
“You can try wearing sunglasses. But sunglasses alone can’t prevent face detection. Because face detection uses features like the eyes and nose, it’s hard to prevent just by concealing your eyes. This is the privacy visor I have developed, which uses 11 near-infrared LEDs.
Light from these near-infrared LEDs can’t be seen by the human eye, but when it passes through a camera’s imaging device, it appears bright. The LEDs are installed in these locations because, a feature of face detection is, the eyes and part of the nose appear dark, while another part of the nose appears bright. So, by placing light sources mostly near dark parts of the face, we’ve succeeded in canceling face detection characteristics, making face detection fail.
There are only two downsides to these glasses. First, they require electricity and therefore batteries; and secondly, they look way sillier than Google Glass. The latter issue might not be easy to overcome, but the team already has some ideas about the former. Equipping the glasses with reflective material would not only eliminate the electricity requirement, but it would also stop facial detection cameras that aren’t affected by infrared light.
It should be reiterated that Google won’t allow facial recognition software on Glass for now. It wants to sort out all the privacy implications before allowing software that could potentially be abused onto Glass. Even with all those issues sorted out, you may still feel compelled by paranoia to wear something like this. Unfortunately, you’re probably not going to see it on the market anytime soon as it’s still a work in progress.