Citing privacy concerns, Google Glass drops facial recognition (for now)

by 1389 on July 22, 2013

in 1389 (blog admin), Google, privacy, tech industry

Google's Sergey Brin wearing Google Glass
Google’s Sergey Brin wearing Google Glass [source]

1389 Blog has discussed Google Glass and privacy issues before.

Forbes has the story:

Google is ducking, for now, some of the most profound questions about privacy and Google Glass with its decision not to include facial recognition in the device. “As Google has said for several years,” Project Glass said in a Google+ post,  ”we won’t add facial recognition features to our products without having strong privacy protections in place. With that in mind, we won’t be approving any facial recognition Glassware at this time.”

This is probably the first, or at least smartest, PR-conscious move Google has made with Glass. From the beginning, except for tech enthusiasts, most consumers have looked askance or at least dubiously at Google Glass.
Basically people don’t get Google Glass or if they do get it they don’t see why it is relevant to them. And if they do think Google Glass could be relevant, or at least a fun toy, they don’t entirely trust Google to deliver the experience in a consumer-friendly way. Leaving aside the $1,500 price tag, which will inevitably drop and the dorky way Glass makes even attractive people look, what seemed to faze people was the creepy ability to call up any information about any one on the street identified via facial recognition technology.

Tone Deaf

In the past Google has proven to be tone deaf about such things. For example from all accounts, Google was astounded two years ago when people were furious with its first iteration of Buzz, its first big foray into social networking. In that version not only did Google automatically activate Buzz from people’s email accounts, but it also went ahead and created a list of contacts to follow and a list of people who would be following the user’s updates–all without permission, all on the premise developed somehow by Google that this would be welcome.

I was talking to Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group about this a few weeks ago and his take on it was particular astute I thought. Basically Google doesn’t seem to get humans, Enderle said, at least humans outside of Silicon Valley.

“Now Google Glass is a beta product and the point of doing it was to learn about the market and requirements as well as evolve the product into something that is acceptable,” Enderle said. “But the process they are taking is turning the market against the entire class because they aren’t managing the perceptions surrounding the trial well.”
Read it all.

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