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Unauthorised app to bring face recognition to Google Glass

A new app for Google's smartglasses that allows users to catalogue recognisable objects like faces, computer screens and licence plates is to be released later this month without Google's approval.

FaceRec will be released at the Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg on 27 December by developer Stephen Balaban and his startup Lambda Labs. The technology it uses has been criticised by privacy advocates, as well as Google itself.

Earlier this year the technology giant scrapped its own plans to add a facial recognition to Google Glass, citing privacy concerns surrounding the layering of such capabilities onto the smartglasses.

"We won't add facial recognition features to our products without having strong privacy protections in place," Google said in a blogpost at the time. "With that in mind, we won't be approving any facial recognition Glassware at this time."

Without Google's approval, FaceRec can only be "sideloaded" onto the device using developer tools. This means that, for the moment at least, the majority of Glass wearers will not be able to use it.

In a video demonstrating the app, Balaban describes how the app can take a picture of an individual and match it against a database containing personal information like age, occupation and title.

"This is really just for the Glass-hacking and developer community," Balaban told Forbes. "Facial recognition is only going to get better, and soon you'll be able to not only look at someone you've met once, but people you've never met before, and immediately see what you have in common.

"You'll be able to go to a conference and see all the engineers with Android experience or walk around at a networking event and see all the potential investors."