Vuzix to Equip Smart Glasses With Facial Recognition
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For better or worse, a U.S.-based maker of smart glasses will merge its technology with a facial-recognition system in Dubai to help law enforcement in the Middle East catch criminals.
About 50 Vuzix Blade smart glasses will be outfitted with facial-recognition technology for use in "security operations" in the region. The resulting system will let the wearer "easily and discretely screen a crowd to match faces against a database of violators, missing people or suspects," according to the company's press release.
Vuzix's partner on the project is NNTC, a Dubai-based software developer that developed a facial-recognition system called iFalcon Face Control, which it's been selling to law enforcement and security firms. The system is fast enough to detect up to 15 faces per video frame in under one second.
It also doesn't require an active internet connection to work; each pair of glasses comes with a mobile server you can carry around in a satchel. The built-in camera on board the glasses will take video of the wearer's field of view. Meanwhile, the server will analyze and then match the incoming images to a database containing 1 million unique faces.
"We are very happy with the way Vuzix Blade complements our wearable face recognition solution," NNTC general manager Dmitry Doshaniy said in a statement.
Still, the technology probably won't sit well with privacy advocates. The Dubai-based company plans on potentially pairing its iFalcon system with body cameras, drones, and surveillance cameras. NNTC's own website is also marketing the solution as way to prevent terrorism and to monitor immigrants.
In the U.S., Amazon is facing public pressure to stop selling its facial-recognition system to government agencies over concerns the technology will be abused for mass surveillance. The city of San Francisco has gone as far as to ban local police and municipal agencies from ever using the technology.
Vuzix told PCMag the "market seems to be rather excited" about the iFalcon-powered smart glasses.
"There are already cameras everywhere," the company added. "Security people, in general, rely on remembering the faces for people of interest to keep public venues safe. This kind of innovative technology can significantly help them to identify the bad guys and support their goals. It is hard to argue against technology that is available that can help keep our children and people, in general, safer."
The technology might also become inevitable, at least in certain markets. In China, police have also been using smart glasses outfitted with facial recognition technologies to help fight crime.