Privacy has become a main concern in the digital age. From people eschewing Facebook and other social media because of what these companies with your personal data (mostly selling personal info to advertisers) to employer-issued smartphones tracking down where workers are at all times, privacy has often become a thing of the past.
However, the Privacy Visor, a wearable developed by Japan’s National Institute of Informatics (NII), is seeking to return privacy to individuals by blocking facial recognition software. While the Privacy Visor has been in development for years (one version had LED lights near the nose), the 2012 edition required a bulky power source to use and was not aesthetically pleasing. The 2015 version requires no power source, but has a pattern on the lenses. These patterns can be horizontal lines, shapes, or even a web, and cuts incoming light by 50 percent.
“The Privacy Visor is the world’s first product with this technology,” said Professor Isao Echizen to Japanese media outlet Japan Real Time. The professor noted specifically smartphones and cameras that can focus on someone’s face without their knowledge. These photos can make it onto social media. “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,” Echizen also said. “This is a way to prevent privacy invasion through the many image sensors in smartphones and other devices that can unintentionally photograph people in the background.”
The Privacy Visor had a 90 percent success rate at blocking facial recognition software. While one would have no problem walking, the wearable may prove troublesome if one were to wear it while riding a bicycle or driving. Prof. Echizen stated that the wearable was intended to be used in crowded areas where others could be taking photos, and that its use would not be necessary for driving.
The titanium-framed privacy blocking wearable is set to hit the market in 2016 at a cost of around 30,000 Japanese yen (US$240). For those with privacy concerns, this could become one of the hottest wearable pieces of tech if it reaches American shores.