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Entries in Goggles (4)


Apple and Google Both Working on Wearable Augmented Reality Smartphones

Sure, pretty much anything Apple and Google do right now will create buzz. But link those two companies with the words “wearable augmented reality smartphone,” and people are bound to really take notice.

In an effort to (eventually) integrate your smartphone into your life even more, the companies are exploring augmented reality phones that serve as more of a “window on to your world”—not just a screen that you interact with.

At Google, researchers in the super-secret Google X labs have been working on developing devices that interact directly with Android smartphones, helping you to digitally immerse yourself into the world around you. According to 9To5Google, one project involves augmented reality glasses that would plug a user in to real-time search results that correspond to what he or she is viewing.

To me, this sounds like a natural step for the whole idea (and name) behind Google Goggles. In fact, Google may be hinting at this new wearable product with a recent blog announcement about a Google Goggles upgrade.

9To5Google claims the AR glasses would be unobtrusive, styled much like a pair of normal, thicker-rimmed glasses. They would include just a few buttons on the side that help the wearer “communicate with the cloud,” presumably through an Android device.


This blogger is skeptical about AR glasses ever being “unobtrusive.” I envision a jumble of Google search suggestions popping up every time I turn my head. I wonder how Google plans on giving the user enough control so he or she doesn’t get overwhelmed.  

In the meantime, the New York Times Bits blog, reveals that Apple has been secretly working on a wearable computer that wound use Siri and fit on your write like an iPod Nano. It seems there are several different prototypes in the works; one of them was intriguingly described as a wrist-worn “curved-glass iPod.”


Must Read: Steve Talks Privacy with USA Today

Digital technology plays a complex, ever-evolving role in our day-to-day lives. Digital sensors, especially, are on the brink of becoming hugely important to each of us--whether we want them to or not.

In a USA Today article today, I explain how digital sensors, facial recognition software and even websites like Google and Facebook are changing the future of privacy. 

The digital sensors that we encounter every day--on smartphone cameras, webcams, passports and even employee ID cards--are literally recording our every move. And facial recognition software is making it possible to identify your friends on Facebook, contacts within Picassa--and even strangers on the street. As I point out to USA Today, once you're tagged in a photo, it could be used to "search for matches across the entire Internet, or in private databases, including those fed by surveillance cameras." A nerve-wracking thought indeed.

It's scenarios like this that point to the need for privacy protections within advanced facial recognition software. Without them, privacy and anonymity will be a thing of the past. 

Read the full USA Today article here


Google Weighs Facial Recognition Plans

Executives at Google have found themselves in an interesting dilemma. While feeling pressure to launch new facial recognition technology to keep up with the market, new Internet privacy concerns are making some higher-ups uneasy about pushing the privacy envelope.

Google already includes facial recognition in its Picasa photo-sharing service, enabling users to tag people in their photos and then find them in other albums. However, the company was hesitant to use facial rec in its recently-launched Goggles app, which identifies an object by analyzing a smartphone photo of it. Concerns were raised that if Goggles did include facial rec, people’s privacy could be easily compromised.

Now, in the wake of Facebook’s privacy backlash, Web 2.0 users seem more concerned than ever about the potential dangers of facial recognition. Meanwhile, Google has faced its own privacy problems this year, as it undergoes investigations for accidentally recording data from unsecured WiFi connections. And who can forget its much-criticized launch of Buzz, the social networking site that may have exposed users’ private information without their consent.

From the Financial Times:
Eric Schmidt, chief executive, said a series of public disputes over privacy issues had caused the management team to review its procedures and the launch of new technologies. According to Google executives, facial recognition is one of the key topics of internal debate.

Facial recognition is a good example … anything we did in that area would be highly, highly planned, discussed and reviewed,” Schmidt said. “When you go through these things, you review your management procedures.”

While Google pontificates on privacy concerns, companies like are making headway in the facial rec/social media realm. The Financial Times reported that Schmidt didn’t rule out an eventual facial rec product, however.


Google Goggles Ogles the World

Google has just released its Goggles visual search app for Android phones, and it looks like something worth checking out. Take a photo with your Android, and the software recognizes the object and returns relevant search results and information.

Visual search allows you to find information on books, pieces of art, landmarks and even people’s business cards. For local businesses, don’t even bother taking a photo. Just point your Android’s camera at a restaurant or shop, and Goggles will use GPS and compass information to give you the business’ name and info.

In the future, the creators say, visual search technology will be much more refined and able to, for example, identify a species of plant from your photograph of a leaf.