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The 'privacy visor' that stops surveillance in its tracks

Posting in Technology

Worried about the rising amount of surveillance tools used in the West? Perhaps a pair of these visors will calm your fears.

It's not just police and governmental departments that are known for using surveillance and tracking technology. Security cameras double-up as data harvesters, bars and pubs track people for use with mobile device applications, and retail mannequins keep an eye on your facial expressions and walking patterns as you shop.

It's becoming part-and-parcel of everyday life in the West -- whether we are aware that it exists or not. However, that doesn't mean solutions are not available for the privacy and surveillance-conscious among us.

Tokyo's National Institute of Informatics are developing a pair of glasses that can protect you against facial recognition software used by social networks such as Facebook, and prevent you from being identified by hidden cameras.

The "privacy visor" (.pdf) uses a light source bordering on infrared -- something that human eyes are incapable of seeing, but sophisticated cameras can. Once these lights cover areas near your eyes and nose, facial-recognition software is unable to register your features and identify you when a photo is taken.

The creator, Isao Echizen, says:

"As a result of developments in facial recognition technology in Google images, Facebook et cetera and the popularisation of portable terminals that append photos with photographic information ... essential measures for preventing the invasion of privacy caused by photographs taken in secret and unintentional capture in camera images is now required."

The glasses, although not as fashion-conscious as Google Glass, will be "reasonably priced." Failing that, why not simply tip your head at a 15-degree angle to fool camera into thinking you don't have a face?

(via BBC)

Image credit: National Institute of Informatics

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— By on January 24, 2013, 10:21 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure