Police In New York Are Trying Out Google Glass

Google glass dark shadesKyle Russell/Business InsiderIt’s the pre-Alpha version of ‘RoboCop.’

If you live in New York City, it might not be long until you come across an interesting and kinda creepy sign of the times.

According to a new report from VentureBeat, the New York Police Department is currently testing out the “Explorer” edition of Google’s Glass headset.

The company claims that it is not directly cooperating with the tests and that the headsets were acquired through the same “Explorer” process that everyone else has to go through.

While this isn’t the first case of Google Glass being tested for public service — one of Google’s examples of the kind of people testing its headset is a firefighter in North Carolina, and a police force in Georgia already ran a trial with it last year — neither of the previous cases have the tech-savvy reputation of the NYPD.

This is the same police department making arrests thanks to Facebook and testing sensors that can spot concealed guns from afar.

It’ll be interesting to see what they experiment with. One (dystopian) thing they could try out is facial recognition. While Google has banned facial recognition from apps in the Glassware store, it’s still technically possible for developers to make and distribute apps with the technology.

There’s already an app for Glass called NameTag that claims to do just that. Its site says that it can recognise people’s faces from the camera, search social media for their profiles, and then present you with a card full of information about them.

Now imagine that, but with access to criminal and civil records and synced up with the “Minority Report” crime surveillance system the city launched in 2012. The NYPD could know the exact identity and location of nearly everyone in the vicinity of a police officer equipped with Glass, in addition to the raw footage that can also be captured on video.

Futuristic? Yes. Creepy? Sorta, yeah. Effective? Probably — and in ways that you might not expect. As Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Hanni Fakhoury told the Daily Dot in a post earlier today: “‘If they do something they’re not supposed to do, we can see it,’ he pointed out. In that way, Glass could potentially curtail police abuses. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a matter of concern.”

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