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Mark Zuckerberg talking about Facebook's smart glasses

Smart glasses in the works at Facebook may be equipped with face recognition.

What’s new: The social media colossus plans to market augmented-reality headgear, and it’s considering a feature that would overlay a person’s name on their face, according to Buzzfeed.

What’s happening: Announced by Mark Zuckerberg in 2017 (shown in the video clip above), the glasses are set to drop this year. Some capabilities — including face recognition — may be added later, Facebook vice president Andrew Bosworth told Bloomberg News.

  • Bosworth said the technology could remind users of the names of people whom they had met previously. Similarly, it could help people with face blindness, a neurological condition that makes it hard to recognize familiar faces.
  • Facebook is assessing the legal ramifications, since this capability may not be lawful everywhere. For instance, an Illinois law against collecting biometric data might bar the product in that state.
  • Where local laws don’t pose a barrier, the company may formulate its own rules factoring in the potential for harm, said Facebook diversity officer Maxine Williams.

Behind the news: Facebook’s smart glasses, which will be manufactured by Ray-Ban, will compete against Snapchat Spectacles and Google Glass (lately refocused from consumer to enterprise applications).

Why it matters: Wearable hardware that recognizes faces raises serious questions about privacy. Facebook has an incentive to tread carefully: It was the least trusted of nine major social media platforms in a recent survey.

We’re thinking: A Facebook foray into mass-market face recognition could force U.S. lawmakers finally to issue rules on how the technology can and can’t be used.


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