Japanese sunglasses launched to disrupt facial recognition
07 August 2015 12:55 GMT

Courtesy: National Institute of Informatics

Japanese researchers have developed sunglasses which they say can disrupt facial recognition cameras and software.

Built  by government-affiliated institute the National Institute of Informatics and an eyeglass maker in Japan’s Fukui prefecture, the glasses use unique angles and patterns on its lens that reflect or absorb light.

The so-called Privacy Visor therefore prevents recognition systems in digital cameras and smartphones from spotting a human face in a shot and focusing on it.

“The Privacy Visor is the world’s first product with this technology,” the institute’s Professor Isao Echizen told Wall Street Journal's Japan Real Time. Mr. Echizen, who led the research, said his goal was to protect the privacy of individuals in a world where cameras and smartphones can automatically focus on people’s faces without them knowing, and where such images are shared widely on social networks. “We are often told not to unveil our personal information to others, but our faces are also a type of an ID. There should be a way to protect that,” he said.

In tests, the glasses were able to fool the facial-recognition system 90% of the time.

Responding to concerns that the glasses obscure vision while driving, Echizen said that the Privacy Visor is designed for use in crowded areas where others could be taking photos, and that drivers aren’t likely to require them while in their cars.

The Privacy Visor is scheduled to go on sale by June 2016 and is expected to cost about ¥30,000 ($240).

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