Four key members of the Google Glass team held a fireside chat today at Google’s I/O developers conference to go over the current state of the product.
The first question from the audience was about privacy and whether or not Google Glass will be able to recognise faces.
Google Glass product director Steve Lee took the question, saying that Google Glass does not have a facial recognition feature, and there are no plans to add it in the near future.
“We prototyped [facial recognition] early on,” Lee said. “It’s not part of the product today and it’s not in our product plans. I can imagine that existing. I’m not scared of it, but I want to make sure there’s a clear user benefit.”
Another common privacy concern with Glass is that users can take photos or video of people using the device’s camera without the subject knowing. Lee shot that down too, saying there are certain social cues with Glass that let people know when the device is on. For example, the eyepiece lights up when activated and users either have to touch the side of the unit or use a clear verbal command.
Lee did admit it would be possible for someone to hack the device to allow users to circumvent those social cues, but said it would violate the developer terms for the device.
The privacy question comes at an interesting time. A congressional committee sent Google CEO Larry Page a letter today asking Google to clarify privacy concerns such as facial recognition and covert photos.
Google Glass is a wearable computer that is still in the early stages of development. A few thousand select developers are testing the device and giving Google suggestions on how to improve it.