These Glasses Can Trick Facial Recognition Technology

November 2, 2015 | Kelly Tatera

Privacy Visor, designed to block facial recognition technology
Photo credit: National Institute of Informatics

Facial recognition technology often IDs people without their knowledge or permission. Now you can fight back.

Over the past few years, surveillance technology has skyrocketed— from drones to facial recognition programs to aerial technology that can track everyone in an area for several hours at a time. While it’s comforting that a pair of eyes may be watching for criminal activity at all times, it’s hard to dismiss the feeling of privacy invasion, especially after the NSA scandal brought the issue to the forefront.

SEE ALSO: New Satellites Will Detect Your Face and Phone from Space

To prevent facial recognition technology from detecting your face, researchers from Japan’s National Institute of Informatics designed a pair of glasses, called Privacy Visor. The technology reflects or absorbs light by using the unique angles and patterns on its lenses, which trick facial recognition technology and maintain your anonymity. The Wall Street Journal reports that the glasses successfully evade facial recognition technology 90 percent of the time.

Lead researcher Professor Isao Echizen told Japan Real Time that “We are often told not to unveil our personal information to others, but our faces are also a type of an ID. There should be a way to protect that.” Most people don’t even realize that facial recognition technology can pick up their identities in public places. It’s used without the permission of innocent passersby.

The glasses, improved from the first model that was made two years ago, now also have a more sleek, fashionable design reminiscent of glasses flaunted by security contractors and extreme sport enthusiasts. People will be able to wear them around while doing everyday activities, but the researchers do warn that they could make driving or cycling more difficult. The cost of buying back your anonymity will be around $240, and if all goes as planned, the glasses will be available for purchase next June.

Computers however will only continue to improve at recognizing faces. The technology constantly advances, even through sites like Facebook that use algorithms to identify faces in millions of uploaded and tagged photos every day. The questions of what the boundaries and ethical standards will be in the use of this technology haven’t yet been answered. But another pivotal question emerges from the Privacy Visor invention— will criminals and people on the run be able to use this technology to avoid being caught for their crimes?

Technology is a wonderful thing, but sometimes thinking about how far it’s come instills a sense of nostalgia for simpler times, where the ability to go out and about without getting tracked was a given. Sorry facial recognition technology, you’re impressive and all, but some of us just don’t want to be found.

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