Programmers at Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have developed the first facial recognition app for Google Glass. “Glassware”, as Google calls it, can recognize human emotions as well as accurately estimate age and gender.
The app is based on the SHORE (Sophisticated High-speed Object Recognition Engine) system. SHORE started out as an object detection vision system, but over the years has developed to be a face detection and analysis. It can identify a specific person in a crown with a 91.5% success rating and correctly guess gender 94.3% of the time.
Now an app like this can have some creepy implications. Privacy is highly controversial with things like this, but the developers insist that the information the app gathers stays on the device being used and is in no way connected to the cloud. They also note that the app does not show a person’s identity if you are not affiliated with them on Google’s social network.
However, this type of software is not limited to the app. Security companies, video camera and surveillance companies, as well as government agencies are using facial recognition with no restrictions. The erosion of privacy has been going on for a while and mostly at our own doing. With smart phones and social media apps, we seem to want to be interconnected and isolated at the same time. Yet, the progression of our technology is favoring the growing network.
Glassware could have more positive implications than negative. For people with disorders like autism who have a hard time identifying emotional expressions, the app could be of great help, or if the person you have been meaning to talk to in person is just across the street at the coffee shop and you didn’t notice, the app would let you know they are close by. The technology could even be better integrated into automated customer service machines like ATMs and food outlets to help the customer if they are frustrated or confused.
If anything, this app shows us that the software can be put in the smallest of things (like a pair of glasses). How the future moves with this integrated technology is entirely subject to our personal limits of privacy and our desire to socialize at a higher convenience. I, for one, am curious to see where our preferences lie as a society.