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The best use for Google Glass yet

Wed, 03/13/2013 - 9:05am
Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor

There is something universally horrifying about that moment at a party when you meet someone briefly but you can’t recall his name when you bump into him a few minutes later or running into a coworker on the street during lunch and being unable to come up with anything besides "that lady who works two cubes down from me".

Everyone has their own way of dealing with the awkward moment, whether it’s the upfront, "I’m sorry I’m really bad with names," having your significant other introduce themselves, or even substituting a "Hey ... you" instead of the person’s name.

Luckily, Google Glass has a built in solution called "InSight," which recently received the Google Faculty Research Award.

Details are a little scarce, but according to New Scientist, the software uses a smart phone app to snap a series of pictures of the user, which it uses to document the clothing and movement style.  The information is used to create a "fingerprint" called a spatiogram — named because it "captures the spatial distribution of colors, textures, and patterns" of clothing — that is sent to a cloud. Whenever the software "sees" that unique spatiogram, it will identify the person with a nametag or arrow or even with their social media handle.

If you’re concerned about privacy, the spatiogram is erased when the person changes clothing, so it’s only a temporary file. Change your clothes and you disappear. Not to mention you have to "opt in" to the program in the first place.

This may seem a little flippant for the everyday person, but for people with medical conditions like face blindness or other neurological disorders that make recognizing people difficult, it could be life-changing.

It could also be great for parents who take their children to crowded areas where there is a risk of being separated since the software is basically scanning the crowd for that unique information.

In other news, Google recently announced that their product will be available for people who wear prescription glasses.

The software was created by Dr. Srihari Nelakuditi, University of South Carolina, and Dr. Romit Roy Choudhury, Duke University, and funded by Google and the National Science Foundation.

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