Even though for the moment Google reassured people that it won’t implement face recognition into Glass, such features will surely be coming in the future, either from the tech giant or from hackers. The solution for this problem would be to wear stealth clothes.
In a post I wrote almost two years ago about extravagant yachts I also mentioned Roman Abramovich’s Eclipse, the (then) second most expensive yacht in the world and the only one that featured a anti-paparazzi shield. What that shield does is to scan the surrounding area for CCD sensors and flash a bright light when a camera is detected. Basically, that system makes taking pictures a very difficult task, or even an impossible one. Stealth Wear, a solution suggested by the School of Visual Arts design professor Adam Harvey, is based on a similar concept, protecting people from surveillance cameras the same way the anti-paparazzi shield protects Eclipse from photographers.
What Stealth Wear does is to suppress the heat signature of the person wearing it. While Google Glass probably won’t come with heat detection (which gave away the location of the Boston bomber back in April, for example), such stealth clothes could surely prove useful in other situations. On his website, Harvey states: “Collectively, Stealth Wear is a vision for fashion that addresses the rise of surveillance, the power of those who surveil, and the growing need to exert control over what we are slowly losing, our privacy.”
Stealth Wear is not the only solution that Harvey came up with. Camoflash, the other concept, is a bit ironic, if nothing else. This “anti-paparazzi fashion accessory” bounces its own flash when the flash of another camera is detected, thus rendering the photos useless.
Researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics have a different approach, this time targeted directly at Google Glass. They invented a visor that blurs the face of the person wearing it. Needless to say, facial recognition cannot be performed in these conditions. Check out the following video to see how the privacy visor works.
You know how it is, technology is great until it gets in the wrong hands. At some point we might need to find some people by using facial recognition or surveillance, but it will be to no avail if they’re wearing stealth clothes. By no means, I’m not suggesting that the future should be built by following the recipe in George Orwell’s 1984. We already live in a world where Big Brother is no longer fictional, and protecting our privacy is one of the best things people could do.