A new software ('glassware') for Google Glass was demoed this week, called NameTag - in a nutshell, it's a facial recognition app for Glass. It works by taking a picture of a face and having that face processed through NameTag's database for a match - the database in question scrapes information from social media websites, dating websites, sex offender registries and more for a match in real-time. It aims to display a brief, but relevant points about this person to you. Here's a video demo:
I'm in two minds about this. First of all, I absolutely love the idea of Google Glass and when possible; I'll definitely be getting one. I wrote a post earlier about some of my concerns for augmented reality with Glass and they still stand. This app somewhat extends my concerns but I feel like taking a different stance with this certain app.
The trouble with Google Glass is that, while the technologies behind it themselves are quite basic - realistically it's just duplicating information from one screen (your phone) to another via elegantly designed apps. It's the method that I think is both amazing & scaring people. This sleek, futuristic Star Trek-type technology is wearable and happening now. If we go back a decade or two - the elements that Glass provide are nothing but a wet-dream - all of this information accessible to you like a video game. So why are people so afraid of the implementation now?
This app has great potential and I fully understand the reasons why it's great - if you're terrible at forgetting names; if you're too shy to talk to somebody and want a good conversation opener - if you're worried this person might be dangerous - this database checks against sex offender registries!
We live in a world where everybody is looking down at their phone and nobody wants anything to do with anybody while we're out and about. This app can help you connect with people who are willing to connect. NameTag have stated this app is about connecting the world with people who want to be connected. 'Don't be a Stranger'.
I think that it's not the technology people are afraid of - it's the potential of the people who could abuse it. Whether it be the creepy guy at the bar (who totally didn't take a hint when you said you had a boyfriend and your gal-pal shooed him off) wants to find you the next day for 'a second chance'. Or the advertisers who want to pay NameTag's database owners for your information. Oh, Jon took a photo of Charlotte at this GPS co-ordinate at this time of day?
Now, I know what you're thinking:
"I don't strangers to know my information! My information is personal and I didn't say they could look at it. That's just creepy!"
This is my biggest quarry here and it's something that our generation overlooks - any information that NameTag displays is information that you have chosen to post online. Whether you realise it or not.
Social networks are not designed to be private, they never have been and never will be. Even if your profile is set to private; the pictures and details of yourself that you posted are unfortunately, still available online to anybody. Websites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. have this information at hand and make a lot of their revenue through advertisers who pay for this information and target advertisements towards you. A lot of games on Facebook request permissions before you install them - a lot of these permissions often involve scraping your information.
A huge problem this the new generation (and my own) is that we feel the need to share everything and want to know everything - how many times have you stalked a stranger's Facebook profile out of curiosity? We've all done it. Why is Glass the exception because it's a wearable technology?
It's important to note that NameTag allows (or will allow) you to opt-out of being in their database. Also that Google has repeatedly imposed an anti-facial recognition stance on their technology. But, as technology should be open; we all know it's inevitable that somebody will do this.