Lambda Labs readying Google Glass face-recognition API

Are you bad at remembering faces? Let Glass do it for you. This API will reportedly be available to developers within a week.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
2 min read
Tiger Woods
Based on its face-rec API released last year, Lambda Labs' Google Glass Face Recognition API could help you recognize people who are less famous than Tiger Woods. Lambda Labs

Amid questions to Google from Congress about privacy concerns related to Google Glass, a San Francisco startup is preparing an API to recognize faces with the controversial gadget.

The Google Glass Face Recognition API (application programming interface) from Lambda Labs will be available to developers within a week, TechCrunch tells us, quoting co-founder Stephen Balaban.

Lambda Labs released its open-source Face API last year, and it's apparently being used by 1,000 developers including large companies.

The Glass app would be based on that. It would let users recognize faces in a crowd as well as remember faces by storing data from personal encounters. That's great if you're terrible with names and faces -- not so great if you care about privacy.

Beyond being a mnemonic tool, the app could show you who shares your interests. By looking up people's faces at a gathering, it could perform functions like "networking event interest matching." It would also be able to recognize objects.

Whether or not this would happen in real time as opposed to snapping photos with Glass and then querying a remote server is unclear. It's also unclear whether Google will allow facial-recognition apps.

"This is the first face-recognition toolkit for Glass, so we're just not sure how Google, or the privacy caucus, will react," Balaban was quoted as saying.

A Google Glass PR rep told CNET, however, that Google would not allow facial-recognition apps in its app store.

Steve Lee, Glass director of product management, was quoted as saying by The New York Times, "We've consistently said that we won't add new face-recognition features to our services unless we have strong privacy protections in place."

Everything clear as mud now?