AVG’s new glasses render facial recognition tech useless

by | Mar 13, 2015 | Biz/Tech

Ryan Durgy
Biz/Tech Reporter

A tech company thinks its new device can hide people in plain sight.


AVG Technologies is now demonstrating a concept pair of invisibility glasses that are designed to protect wearers’ “visual identity in the digital age,” according to the firm’s website.


The glasses are a departure from the multinational company’s usual focus, computer security software.


Using infrared LEDs only visible to digital cameras, the glasses use a bright flash around the wearer’s eyes and nose to obscure areas critical for facial recognition software to identify a person.


Some students are concerned that if students get their hands on a pair of invisibility glasses, safety on campus may be affected.


Rob Kilfoyle, director of Public Safety and Emergency Management at Humber College, doesn’t consider the invisibility glasses a safety concern for Humber’s campuses at this stage.

“For the college setting, I can’t really see it being a major issue. We currently don’t use facial recognition software,” Kilfoyle said.


Kilfoyle said he would be curious about the intention behind people wearing the glasses, but pointed out that there is nothing illegal about it.


“It’s not illegal to obscure yourself,” Kilfoyle said.


Although Kilfoyle said facial recognition software is not in use at Humber, he remarked the Public Safety department may look into implementing access control systems that use biometric technology such as facial scanning, fingerprints and iris scanning to control access into high control areas.


Kilfoyle said they are not at the point of using such technology quite yet.


Bethany Hosick, a second-year Fashion Arts student, thinks the focus should be on the facial recognition software rather than on the glasses themselves.


“The software shouldn’t be open for public use,” Hosick said.


“I wouldn’t buy them and I wouldn’t care if someone else bought them,” she said. “I would care if a criminal bought them… If you’re actually using it to hide something then that’s not good.”


Hosick said she could understand why people may want the invisibility glasses to manage how they are seen online.


Facebook started using facial recognition technology in 2010, however, this summer it was revealed that their technology is almost as accurate as humans at facial recognition.


Facebook DeepFace system is said to have 97.25 per cent accuracy, when given two photos, in determining whether they are the same person, humans have 97.5 accuracy in the same setting.


Hosick said she doesn’t like Facebook using facial recognition technologies to recognize people in photos posted online.


“I guess by getting a Facebook account you’re already putting your life on public display,” Hosick said. “Do we really need that? (Facebook) is supposed to be a fun outlet, not a tracking device.”


On its website, AVG has said its product is not meant for a market release and rather is another way for technology experts to “combat the daily erosion of our privacy in the digital age.”