NYPD testing out Google Glass for cops on patrol

Glass could become standard equipment for patrolling officers if a trial underway at New York City's Police Department is a success.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

The New York City Police Department has bought a few Google Glass units to see if the networked headsets could be useful for officers on patrol.

Citizens in some US states have been given tickets for use Google Glass while driving, but in future those tickets could be issued by police wearing the hi-tech eyewear in vehicles or on the street.

According to VentureBeat, the New York City Police Department has confirmed it signed up and acquired "a few" of Google’s $1,500 Glass Explorer edition devices.

NYPD confirmed to ZDNet that it bought two Glass devices in December to assess their application in "existing technology-based functions". 

"As part of an on-going interest in the advancements in the field of technology, the NYPD regularly conducts reviews of various equipment, devices, programs and other consumer products for their potential application or utility in the area of policing," NYPD deputy commissioner, Stephen Davis, said in a statement.

"In December of 2013 the Department obtained two pairs of Google Glass and has been evaluating these devices in an attempt to determine any possible useful applications.  The devices have not been deployed in any actual field or patrol operations, but rather are being assessed as to how they may be appropriately utilized or incorporated into any existing technology-based functions." 


A Google spokesperson said it was not working with the police department, and that the Explorer program was open to anyone, Venture Beat said.

With an annual budget of $4.6bn and 34,600 officers on its payroll last year, the department's trial could potentially lead to a very large order for Google once the device leaves its closed beta.

New York's police wouldn't be the first law enforcement officers to try out Glass.  US company CopTrax claimed to have worked with the Byron, Georgia Police Department in a field trial last year, involving Glass devices equipped with its app for road patrols. The app was designed to capture video while patrolling and streaming it back to headquarters. 

Google is currently expected to begin selling the devices to the public later this year and has recently expanded its Glass frame range to support prescription lenses. It's still not clear whether Glass will be sold in markets outside the US yet. 

Facial recognition is one obvious application of Google Glass in law enforcement, however Google's current developer policy doesn't authorise such apps — at least not through official distribution channels. Its decision on the matter came after a US company Lamba Labs developed facial recognition for the device last year.

Despite the ban, the startup is releasing its app FaceRec for jailbroken Glass devices, Lambda Labs founder Stephen Balaban recently told Forbes.

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