A new app for Google Glass called NameTag uses facial recognition to end privacy as we know it. Originally announced in December of 2013, the new app will make real-time facial recognition a reality for anyone who owns a pair of Google Glasses, iPhone or Android device.
Most of us have been in the awkward social situation where you encounter someone you recognize, but you can’t quite put your finger on their name. You try to steer the conversation to discover a hint as to where you know this individual from, but before long, you have to ask the somewhat embarrassing question, “I’m sorry, but who are you again?” However, FacialNetwork.com and NameTag hope to give you an easy and somewhat disturbing solution to this problem.
It has also generated a good deal of controversy, centered around privacy concerns. The device is designed to have a light on the front that is clearly visible when anything is being recorded, but as with most technology, there are ways around these safety measures.
As a result, bars and other night spots have preemptively banned the wearing of Google Glasses. One of the first establishments to exclude the potentially intrusive technology was the 5 Point Café in Seattle.
Another incident involved a man wearing a pair of prescription Google Glasses who was given a 3.5 hour interrogation by federal agents after being suspected of taping a movie at an AMC theater. In this case, there is a relevant question: Did the police over-react or should the man have known better than to wear a recording device into a movie theater?
As reported by The Inquisitr. Google Glass has also been in the crosshairs of traffic cases, including one woman who was ticketed for wearing her pair while driving. Cecilia Abadie was later acquitted when the judge ruled she was not actively using her Google Glasses when she was stopped for speeding.
However, Google Glass now has a new app that could take online privacy concerns outside of the theater and onto the streets. Introducing NameTag, currently in testing for Google Glass, with versions planned for both the Apple iOS and Android platform.
NameTag uses facial recognition technology that will allow you to take a snapshot of the person you forgot or the cute person at the bar and send the picture to NameTag’s servers, where it will be compared to pictures available on social media sites. If a match is found, then the picture is sent back with the person’s name, as well as other significant personal details, including hobbies, interests, and even their current relationship status. If a criminal record is also found in the public record, it will flash in nice big red letters.
According to the official press release:
“No longer will social media be limited to the screens of desktops, tablets and smartphones. With the NameTag app running on Google Glass a user can simply glance at someone nearby and instantly see that person’s name, occupation and even visit their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter profiles in real-time.”
Once you get past the impressive part of how NameTag uses facial recognition, the naivete or just plain apathy of the developers beings to show through. “I believe that this will make online dating and offline social interactions much safer and give us a far better understanding of the people around us,” said Kevin Alan Tussy.
As the creator of NameTag, he believes that it is easier to get all the information we would normally find out in a conversation at the push of a button, or as E! Online reported, a wink of an eye.
The part that makes it disturbing is that you already might be on the servers and not realize it. Unlike the NSA, NameTag and FacialNetwork.com have been building the database on an “opt-out” principle.
Simply put, this means unless you tell NameTag that you do not want to be searchable, you could find yourself sitting at a bar enjoying a simple drink and have a complete stranger sit next to you and suddenly exclaim:
“So I see you attend Northside College and are single. Want to go Hiking with me sometime? It says in your Facebook profile you love it.”
According to Mr. Tussy:
“People will soon be able to login to http://www.NameTag.ws and choose whether or not they want their name and information displayed to others.”
While the idea of being able to identify registered sex offenders, terrorists and any manner of unsavory people holds a certain appeal, the idea of a database that is available to the public, not just the NSA, is more than a little disconcerting.
Google seems to agree, and at least for now, the information behemoth does not allow facial recognition apps on the MyGlass app store, but as mentioned by Gizmodo, any technology can be hacked. In addition, the NameTag app is being developed for iOS and Android as well.
If you want to see how NameTag uses facial recognition, a demo of the technology is below. It ends with a very telling final comment from the creator after tagging a co-worker, “All right, we got you!”