Google nixes Glass facial recognition due to privacy concerns

Google says it's holding off until stronger privacy protctions are in place

Google will not add facial recognition software to its futuristic-looking computerized eyeglasses at this point due to privacy concerns.

The company announced late Friday that Glass won't include facial recognition technologies. Google said it decided against adding the capability due to privacy concerns voiced by users.

"When we started the Explorer Program nearly a year ago, our goal was simple: we wanted to make people active participants in shaping the future of this technology ahead of a broader consumer launch," the company wrote in a Google+ blog post. "We've been listening closely to you, and many have expressed both interest and concern around the possibilities of facial recognition in Glass."

The post on the Google Glass page noted that Google has previously said that it won't add facial recognition software to any of its products until there are strong privacy protections in place.

"With that in mind, we won't be approving any facial recognition Glassware at this time," the company said. "We've learned a lot from you in just a few weeks and we'll continue to learn more as we update the software and evolve our policies in the weeks and months ahead."

Google has been getting prototypes into the hands of thousands of early Glass adopters, but there has been uncertainty within the company as to when the wearable computers will formally ship.

Google's executive chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt said earlier this spring that Glass wouldn't ship for about a year. However, during Google I/O, the company's annual developer conference held in San Francisco last month, two sources told Computerworld that Glass will hit the market late this year.

While Glass won't soon be getting a facial recognition app, Google has been adding a list of other apps that will support Glass.

During the Google I/O conference, the company showed off Glass apps from CNN, Twitter, Facebook, Elle magazine, the New York Times and Evernote.

CNN designed its app to send news alerts based on the Glass user's interest. Users also can read news or watch news video on Glass.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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