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Glass developers already griping over Google barring facial recognition

Updated Oct 30th, 2013 3:30PM EDT
Google Glass Developers Facial Recognition Technology

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If you thought that the recent revelations about the NSA’s invasive surveillance practices would give app developers pause about spreading the adoption of facial recognition technology, you would be wrong. Technology Review reports that app developers are griping over Google’s decision to bar facial recognition technology from Google Glass because they think such tech should be a core capability of any wearable computing device. Developer Lance Nanek, for instance, had just demonstrated a prototype for a facial recognition app that could be used by doctors to instantly bring up patients’ medical history and information right before Google formally announced it wouldn’t support such apps on the platform.

“The MDs who saw this were like, ‘Man, it would really help if I saw test results immediately, and saw the results when I looked at the patient. I could see if medications were conflicting,” Nanek tells Technology Review. “I’m pretty disappointed.”

Lambda Labs cofounder Stephen Balaban, meanwhile, tells Technology Review that Google is just delaying the inevitable by barring facial recognition technology on Glass.

“My opinion is that face-recognition technology is a core functionality, a core feature of the wearable computer,” he explains. “Whatever wearable computing platform becomes successful — whether it is Google Glass or something else — will have this functionality. In the long run, this decision is going to hurt the Glass ecosystem. They are creating a walled garden that won’t put people in a creative mind-set exploring this space. They’ll be thinking, ‘Will Google approve my application?'”

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.