Lambda Labs, an early-stage startup out of San Francisco, is preparing to release a facial recognition API for developers working on Google Glass apps.
One of those questions was whether or not Glass would have support for facial recognition. That’s something Steve Lee, Glass director of product management, has already answered. In a statement offered to The New York Times, he replied, “We’ve consistently said that we won’t add new face recognition features to our services unless we have strong privacy protections in place.”
That’s not a solid “no,” of course. It’s more of a “no, for now.” Glass is simply too new of a technology to begin limiting what it will or will not do, at least in such definitive terms.
Facial recognition, however, doesn’t appear to be specifically prohibited in Google’s API policies, which inform Glass developers what they can and can’t do in their applications. That means, for now at least, Lambda’s facial recognition API for Glass developers would be permitted.
The only cause that would impact its use, according to Google’s policies, is one that says Glass is “not intended for use in connection with applications and services that might be subject to industry-specific privacy regulations.”
Obviously, lawmakers could still enact such a policy, if they chose to do so.
“Assuming Google and Joe Barton’s Privacy Caucus don’t attempt to stop us, [the API] will be available to everybody within the week,” Balaban says.
Google, it shouldbe noted, has long since had the technology to build apps capable of facial recognition itself, but has always tread very carefully to not incite a privacy backlash.