Creepy new Google Glass app can identify whoever you’re looking at [Update]


[Update]: Google has reached out to remind us that it’s against their developer policies (section C.1.e) to approve Glassware that has any sort of facial recognition technology, and as such they will not be distributing the app through official channels. It could still be possible for the developer to distribute the app themselves and have users sideload it, but there is little chance such an app would get wide distribution.

We’ve seen our fair share of creepy apps, but this one probably takes the cake. It’s called NameTag, and in Robocop-like fashion, the app can scan a person’s face and compare it to a records database consisting of millions of people.

If NameTag successfully finds that person, it spits back tons of information about them, including their full name, their relationship status, what school they went to, their current occupation, their interests, and more. It’ll even tell you if that person has a criminal record.


It does all of this by searching various online social networking profiles for that person and pulling details from the profiles they may have filled out. It also pulls information from public records database, such as online court records in your city and state.

Upon gathering these details, they upload them to FacialNetwork.com‘s database without your permission. Don’t want your information made available? NameTag gives you the ability to opt-out, though we’d contend that something like this should be strictly opt-in.

Legal and moral issues aside, NameTag says that their goal isn’t to invade user privacy:

It’s about connecting people that want to be connected. We will even allow users to have one profile that is seen during business hours and another that is seen in social situations. NameTag can make the big, anonymous world we live in as friendly as a small town.

Except it should be up to that person whether or not they want to make their details known to strangers who happen to be wearing Google Glass and using this app. I know I’m not necessarily interested in talking to and meeting every single person I come across while I’m out and about. If they need to know more about me for whatever reason, they can come up to me, introduce themselves, and ask like normal human beings are supposed to.

NameTag’s angle is to enhance people’s social lives, but one might think up a few other cases where it might be useful. Perhaps you want to know if someone is registered as a sex offender before engaging them or allowing your children to be near them. That would be a noble use-case scenario, though some would contend that people should have a reasonable level of privacy no matter what they may have done in their life.

To be fair to NameTag, using public records and social networking profiles to craft reports about an individual are nothing new. Spokeo allows you to do this with as little as a name or email address, and gives you even more intimate information than NameTag claims to. That said, it’s not often that these types of services maintain their own database and use images to initiate a search for someone instead of their name or other details you might have access to.

We’re excited for the future of Google Glass, but apps like these will continue to come around and make us take a step back every now and then as we ponder how far is too far. Sure, our phones have cameras and would be capable of doing this with the right app (in fact, NameTag is planning on making iOS and Android apps of their own).

Still, it’s a lot more obvious when it’s being done with a smartphone, and there’s something about a camera that sits on your face that may or may not be taking your photo at any given time that makes something like NameTag a bit more uneasy to swallow. How do you feel?

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. It was up to the person to decide whether they wanted this information available on the web. They are the ones that filled out all the online profiles that this tool is utilizing. If they didn’t want their information available, they shouldn’t have posted it on the web. Duh!

  2. I haven’t had much success with the app. Almost everyone I scan comes up as a convict or sex offender when they clearly aren’t. I did have one guy show up as an incorrect match for LinkedIn though.

    1. And these people are fellow workers at Phandroid? ROFL
      What did it say when looking into a mirror? Convict or sex offender? LOL

      1. Hey, can you can be a convicted “sex offender” simply for peeing in public these days… O_o


        1. …he says as though there were nothing at all abnormal or strange about such a thing.


        2. oh how do you know…….?

      2. Profile found: Sexy bastard.

        1. You know you are what you eat right?

    2. “Almost everyone I scan comes up as a convict or sex offender when they clearly aren’t.”

      So, where exactly are you testing this app? Prison? (Joking…joking…)

      1. One of the databases the app scans is a nationwide criminal database.

        1. I can read, silly. I was joking….(What singular place would you have to be for nearly everyone there to show up as a convict or sex offender?)

          …at least *I* thought it was funny. Ah well…

          1. Well, he does work at PSU.

          2. It was funny. I think it was over his head.

  3. “Except it should be up to that person whether or not they want to make their details known to strangers..”

    Apparently they do…

    “It does all of this by searching various online social networking profiles…”

    New Headline:
    Public information is accessible by the Public! News at Eleven!

    Was so tempted to post the “Fry: Can’t Tell If Serious” meme…

    1. The thing is you often have to know something about that person, even if just a little bit, to find that information. This app would give you access even if you don’t have as much as a first name.

      1. Nope. Not even close.

        If you are randomly scrolling through FB “friend suggestions”, you are getting the exact same information.

        No personal communication or details needed.

        This “scrolling” here is simply taking place on a physical plane vs. a virtual one. No arguable difference.

        (….and before you suggest that FB requires some mutual friend or institution, please reference: Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.)

      2. there are actually a few ways to take an image and do a search like this online already…. all this app did was streamline it a bit

  4. I have no problem with this. looks useful!

  5. Do you think if people knew that their info would be used like this they would be as free with it? Probably not right?

    1. Then they must be morons. Why do you think facebook offers these features?

  6. Well the first terminator movie would have been a lot shorter and had a really bad ending if Arnold had this. Wouldn’t have had any problem locating and shooting the correct Sarah Connor in a timely manner.

  7. No Facebook. Im immune!!!

  8. i’m kinda surprised it took this long, lol

  9. Where can you opt out at? If they do have a opt out feature it’s pretty well hidden

  10. One step closer to Eden from Eden of the East. Now it just needs to identify buildings, public transit routes, and have the ability for people to update the info in realtime from their website.

  11. As long as it is “opt-in” and not “opt-out”

    1. Just do like I do and wear a mask when you’re out. You can wear a sars mask. Personally, I like Batman.

  12. This is awesome. Like T2.


  13. This technology has been available in Japan for years on cell phones.

    1. You have to understand how much more “effective” this is for Glass wearers though, right? Being able to glance at anyone and pull up their information is far more incognito than pulling out your cellphone and scanning everyone’s face.

  14. Sex offenders don’t have the right to hide the fact that they’re sex offenders. That’s why they have to register.

  15. For someone like me, I just can’t remember names. I would be thankful to use something like this so I didn’t have that deer in headlights look when they said hello to me. I’d much rather respond, “hello, (name)”

  16. I’d use it. Can never keep my wife’s friends names straight.

  17. Intensely creepy. Glassholes of the world will rejoice.

  18. I dunno – if I was a Glasshole, this would be on my shortlist of “banned apps” to side-load. Just as I now have to side-load AdAway on my phone via F-Droid.org’s app store.

  19. Sure, maybe you did put your face online, your bad. However, I have trouble believing that everyone that ever has put their own picture online has come to this conclusion. On top of that, I know that not everyone whose face is online was put there by that person. For instance, my dad has used an internet connected computer maybe 10 times in his life. He has 4 children. Guess how his face got on the internet. Hint: he has no criminal record AND HE HAS FOUR CHILDREN.

    That said, this was inevitable and will be standard in the near future, so get used to it now. The government can already do it, from what I’ve read.

  20. Well it’s a good thing Google blocked it, but…

  21. The point everybody who supports this software is making is this info is already out there. My problem is using facial recognition to identify the person and then link it with the info.

    If you want to spend a couple of days scrolling through photos trying to find a pic of someone you have seen fine but facial recognition is an invasion of peoples privacy IMO.

  22. Maybe all this exploitation of info already out there will lead to privacy becoming a main concern over digital air and we will see tighter privacy policies in the coming years.

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