Facebook’s head of hardware on Thursday confirmed a report that the company is “looking at” incorporating facial recognition technology for its upcoming smart glasses devices, but only if people want that feature.
Andrew “Boz” Bosworth confirmed the report in a video posted to his Instagram account Thursday evening during a Q&A session with his followers. Asked if “Facebook is considering offering facial recognition on its smart glasses products?,” Bosworth said, “We’re looking at it.”
“It’s really a debate we need to have with the public,” Bosworth added. “If people don’t want this technology, we don’t have to supply it. The product is going to be fine either way. There are some nice use cases out there, if it’s something people are comfortable with.”
The comments come after BuzzFeed on Thursday reported that the hardware executive said Facebook was weighing the legal implications of such a technology during an internal company meeting. Bosworth noted that there are ethical concerns with the numerous ways that face recognition and always-on cameras and microphones could be abused.
“All the ways they can be abused, in particular for marginalized communities by authority structures,” Bosworth said. “What are all the ways that we can prevent those? And is it enough?” During the Instagram Q&A, Bosworth reiterated that Facebook is on track to release its smart glasses product in partnership with Luxottica, the maker of Ray-Ban, at some point in 2021.
“We’re working hard with our partner Luxottica making sure the form factor is right, making sure the functionality is good, and it’s coming together pretty nicely,” he said.