For a while, Facebook has been planning to integrate facial recognition technology in a pair of smart glasses that it is presently working on producing. While work on this front is happening at a good pace, Facebook now realizes that it must understand its legal implications properly before taking the final steps towards integrating this technology in the smart glasses and introducing them in the market in the latter half of this year.
According to a report published in BuzzFeed News, Andrew Bosworth, who heads AR and VR at Facebook, addressed the employees of the company in an internal meeting and informed them that Facebook is presently trying to figure out whether there is a legal framework that would give them the freedom to introduce facial recognition feature in the smart glasses.
Bosworth stated that when it comes to facial recognition technology, both the risks and benefits associated are quite prominently visible, and therefore, they have to be very careful about how they choose to use this technology. This statement was a response to a question posed by an employee about whether would there be a way for individuals to make their faces unidentifiable or unsearchable when these devices become more popular. There is a prevailing concern about it being misused by anti-social elements like stalkers.
As per the report, Bosworth emphasized the fact that the company has not arrived at any decision regarding the implementation of this technology in smart glasses. He also stated that the prevailing laws and regulations might make it very difficult for Facebook to provide users with the option of searching for somebody based on their face’s real-world profile.
After this story was published, Bosworth posted a tweet to highlight the fact that the company had been very forthcoming about its initiative to manufacture AR glasses which, he pointed out, are “still in the early stages”.
We’ve been open about our efforts to build AR glasses and are still in the early stages. Face recognition is a hugely controversial topic and for good reason and I was speaking about was how we are going to have to have a very public discussion about the pros and cons. (1/2) https://t.co/PFNSoBpcni
— Boz (@boztank) February 25, 2021
Last year, Facebook made an official declaration about developing smart glasses for the first time. Around the same time, it confirmed that the product will be out in the market in 2021. It is being said Facebook is developing these smart glasses in collaboration with Ray-Ban and when these are launched, they will be positioned as a competitor to the smart-glasses manufactured by companies like Amazon and Snapchat.
Beyond thrilled to finally share a sneak peek of our Facebook partnership with Ray-Ban! Our first smart glasses will launch next year, and that’s just the beginning… The future will be a classic and it's coming in 2021 😎 pic.twitter.com/l9992ZQGoy
— Hugo Barra (@hbarra) September 16, 2020
Over the last couple of years, Facebook has utilized the facial recognition feature to identify or mark out users in pictures and offer ‘photo tag’ suggestions. However, it gets a little tricky when you decide to use this particular technology more extensively. The controversy around this subject has been further fueled by emerging reports of government agencies and even private companies using this technology to keeping track of the movement of civilians and encroaching upon their privacy. There is also not enough federal regulation around its usage which is a cause of concern.
Many companies, though, have shown by example that this technology can be used in a very productive manner. Apple has implemented facial recognition in its Photos app and has enabled its usage as a security feature to unlock iPads and iPhones with the help of biometric authentication. Reportedly, Apple is working towards developing smart glasses which will help in bringing out an improvement in the real-world perspective of users with the help of digital features.