Vuzix smart glasses get automatic facial recognition designed for law enforcement

This is one of those “I’m not surprised but I am slightly terrified” moments in tech development: Enterprise smart glasses company Vuzix announced Monday that it has developed new “fully autonomous” face recognition software in partnership with software developer NNTC.

The new solution will work with Vuzix’s Blade smart glasses, which debuted at CES earlier this year and are positioned as both an enterprise and a consumer product. It’s called iFalcon Face Control Mobile, which is a mouthful, and it’s billed as an “AI-powered” solution that promises local matching against a database stored on-device on a wearable computer that pairs with a headset.

It’s intended to be used with set databases, and is ideal for “law enforcement and security guards on patrol,” according to a press release detailing the news. It can find up to 15 faces per frame in less than one second, according to the spec sheet, and can also store a database of up to 1 million faces locally — meaning it can do its tagging without any cloud access or connectivity.

The good news, if you can call it that, is that this means it’s going to be relatively circumscribed and specific in its usage: Basically it works best when you know who you’re looking for, and that means suspects or known offenders, and potentially missing people. It’s not like it’s just constantly monitoring and recording faces all the time and measuring that against a global and growing database to attach a name and identity to everyone it sees.

Right now, it’s installed on only around 50 pairs of Vuzix Blade smart glasses for use in “security operations” in the UAE, but Vuzix is pleased about the speed with which it’s progressed from concept to active use.

Use of facial recognition among security agencies and authorities is a hot-button issue, with San Francisco becoming the first major city to ban its use earlier this year. It’s ramping up specifically for airport use, however, and is likely to cover most passengers on departing flights in the U.S. within the next four years. Meanwhile, Amazon shareholders recently struck down a proposal designed to stop the company from selling its own facial recognition tech to government customers.

Debate continues regarding how effective such efforts even are, but general comfort with the idea is clearly not going to be easily won over.