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App Protects Glass Wearers’ Privacy

Glass chinGoogle Glass continues to be in the news and under scrutiny, partly because of privacy related issues – whether wearers, for example, are potentially invading the privacy of those around them.

One of the latest examples – a Business Insider reporter who, in a piece entitled “I Was Assaulted For Wearing Google Glass In The Wrong Part of San Francisco,” writes that on April 11, he was headed to the 16th Street BART station in San Francisco when someone yelled “Glass!” That person reportedly swiped the pair from the reporter’s face and dashed away.

Sander Veenhof, a Dutch new media artist and independent app developer who owns a pair of Glass, said he wishes episodes like these weren’t taking place and that the discussion was less about privacy and more about the capabilities of the device. He lamented to Wearable World News that consumers and the public are too often overlooking Glass’s strengths and the opportunities the device affords to help us “see around ourselves in a world of data.”

One result of his frustration with that reality is a new app he’s created called Watch Your Privacy, which adds one more bit of nuance to the privacy discussion surrounding Glass. Basically, the app uses augmented reality technology to show when Glass wearers are approaching other Glass wearers – and, more importantly, when they’re approaching public closed-circuit cameras.

Yes, his response to criticism that Glass invades the privacy of members of the public is to create something that protects the Glass-wearer’s privacy. How he explained it to Wearable World News, to use what he concedes is his awkwardly phrased English, “Wearing a problematic device in order to detect the other problematic devices is a bit weird. Why I launch it is to add my contribution to the debate about privacy and Google Glass … It expresses my interest in trying to stimulate positive, constructive and creative thinking to find solutions to the problematic stance the general public has against these kinds of devices.”

In other words, he believes the solution to any privacy concerns is just to keep expanding Glass functionality that protects privacy – both the wearer’s and the public’s – and then move on to other things.

“Of course, there are some issues to solve (with Glass) concerning the privacy aspects, but let’s solve it instead of trying to block the whole development,” he says. “An augmented future is definitely going to be here one day. Putting [a stop to it] doesn’t really help.”

One limitation of his app is the map of public cameras relies on user-generated information. Here’s a video of how the app works:

More people will likely be able to use the app after today. Google has opened its Glass Explorer program up to anyone in the U.S. just for today, allowing anyone in the states to buy Glass for $1,500 plus tax.

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