AVG unveils invisibility glasses to defend against facial recognition

Could 'invisibility' glasses become the next trend in cities crawling with cameras and full of facial recognition technology?


AVG has unveiled invisibility glasses as a way for people to protect their online identities.

Revealed at Pepcom in Barcelona, Spain, the antivirus provider says the privacy wearable can make it more difficult for cameras and facial recognition technologies to get a "clear view of your identity."

Designed by AVG Innovation Labs, the glasses -- chunkiness and dubious fashion aside -- uses both technology and select materials to blur the gaze of cameras.

LED infrared lights inserted around the eye and nose areas are only detectable by cameras, which are sensitive to the wavelengths of these bulbs. First introduced by Isao Echizen of Tokyo Nation Institute of Informatics, it is claimed that LEDs can break face detection when the lights are turned on.


Secondly, the invisibility glasses use retro-reflective materials which reflect light by diffusing or scattering light in all directions -- including at the same angle in which it arrived. Therefore, at the moment a picture is taken, your privacy may be maintained as reflected light will cover facial features.

Naturally, there are drawbacks to both infrared lighting and retro-reflective materials. On one hand, many handset sensors have an infrared filter strong enough to cut off wavelengths that go beyond the visible spectrum. When it comes to light scattering through materials, cameras with high dynamic ranges will be able to minimize the darkening of a subject.

AVG says that despite these drawbacks, the invisibility glasses could prove useful in preventing photos being taken of us in public places without our consent, and to stop Big Data projects -- such as Google's StreetView -- capturing our profiles and sending them into the public domain.

In addition, and perhaps most importantly, AVG says:

"Advancements in facial-recognition technologies, such as Facebook's DeepFace, could soon give a private corporations power to not only recognize us, but also cross-reference our faces to other data found online."

The glasses are still in a prototype phase, but in a world full of surveillance technology and with the potential of such corporate projects on the horizon, we might one day see such devices become a commonplace feature in city streets.

Read on: In the world of security

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