glass

When Google announced Glass, people instantly became worried about the privacy implications that came with it. One of the biggest questions surrounded the potential to use the device for some sort of facial recognition. Google quickly confirmed that it would not allow such apps to be officially installed on the device, but as we all know,  there are multiple ways to install an app to Glass and Google can’t stop everything.

Forbes reports on a new app, dubbed FaceRec, that will collect and catalog images of faces a user sees throughout the day. In addition to faces, the app will also work with things like computer screens and license plates. The app will integrate the image data collected with location coordinates to create a map. This will allow users to go back and see exactly who they saw and where they saw them. 

Specifically, FaceRec will capture a picture every 10 seconds and sort the pictures by location and by the amount of people in it. So, for example, the images would be broken up into ones taken in a large crowd, a face-to-face conversation, and in a small group. The app currently doesn’t have a database to pull-in specific information about the people in the images, so that must be done manually by the user. In the future, however, the app developers hope to integrate it with Facebook and build up a large data base of information. This would mean that seconds after taking a picture, a user would be able to find out all sorts of information about whoever is in the image.

“As you collect data over time, you can start to ask questions like, who was that person I talked to during the last month at the Rosewood?” Balaban says. “Give it a geolocation, and you can find all the pictures and timestamps at that location, and it will show you all the people you saw.”

The privacy concerns that come along with FaceRec are huge, but the developer of the app, Stephen Balaban, says that he doesn’t intend on the app becoming mainstream, due to the install process. Because Google won’t let facial recognition apps to be officially installed, users are required to side load the app onto Glass and put it into “debug” mode. “This is really just for the Glass-hacking and developer community,” Balaban says. It’s important to note, however, that almost anyone who has Glass right now, is relatively technologically savvy and could certainly figure out how to side load an app.

Balaban and his team will officially unveil FaceRec at the Chaos Communications Congress hacker conference in Hamburg later this month.

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