In an unexpected twist against the rising tide of image-capturing technologies, an engineer has created glasses that thwart facial recognition scanners. Tokyo’s National Institute of Informatics Professor Isao Echizen’s “Privacy Visor” emits an infrared light source that reportedly confuses facial recognition software. Last week, another designer announced a stealth hoodie that blocks the thermal radiation scanners used by spy drones, marking what could be a trend in privacy wearables.
“Essential measures for preventing the invasion of privacy caused by photographs taken in secret and unintentional capture in camera images is now required,” said Professor Echizen, whose clunky-looking prototype still requires a personal pocket power source to operate. Previously, users could cake on heavy makeup or tilt their head 15 degrees to confuse scanners, but, according to Slate, the professor found that Google’s Picasa imagine management software could still recognize him — prompting him to concoct a more sophisticated disguise.
Last week, designer Adam Harvey launched a line of “Stealth Wear” for what he jokingly referred to as the “fashionably paranoid market.” Harvey’s concept line includes an “anti-drone” hoodie with metalized material and special cell phone pouch to block cell phone tracking.
Harvey was an early pioneer in the space, making headlines for an anti-paparazzi purse that automatically emits a photo-obscuring burst of light in response to camera bulbs.
The government, however, isn’t waiting for the private sector to find a fashion-friendly solution to privacy concerns. Facebook’s ongoing initiatives into automatic photo-tagging software and retail mannequins that scan shoppers have prompted aggressive overtures from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to regulate the new technologies.
Of course, as with any philosophical movement, there’s at least an equal and opposite reaction. Last fall, British maker OMG Pic (yes, that’s their actual name) announced Autographer, a high-resolution wearable camera that automatically logs up to 2,000 pictures a day.
With any luck, paranoid users and lifebloggers will spark a privacy/life-capturing arms race of ever-clunkier wearables. Because, honestly, we don’t have enough to think about already.