The US Air Force is looking to install Clearview AI’s facial recognition technology in augmented reality (AR) glasses. To that end, the Air Force has given Clearview a $49,847 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to try to figure out what it would take to make such glasses a reality.
The Air Force is hoping to use the AR glasses to improve security at bases and airfields. The contract did not offer many details about what that would look like in practice, but military personnel would presumably be outfitted with the glasses on their patrols. The glasses would then identify any other individuals they encounter, and immediately let security know whether or not that person is authorized to be in that area of the base.
According to Clearview, the Air Force deployment would not take advantage of the company’s massive 10 billion image database, but would instead rely on a smaller, more controlled dataset built specifically for the Air Force program. That would most likely mean that the system would be geared toward the identification of registered Air Force personnel.
However, that discussion is ultimately speculative. Clearview stressed that the project is still in the research phase, so the glasses could still be a long way from deployment. It is nevertheless worth noting that the Clearview app does include code to support integrations with AR glasses, and that the company was building toward that as far back as 2020.
The news isn’t all that surprising given the widespread support for Clearview AI amongst law enforcement and federal agencies. That doesn’t make the news any less controversial given Clearview’s ongoing legal struggles. Australia, Canada, and France have all determined that the company’s technology violates their privacy laws, and have ordered Clearview to delete photos of their respective citizens.
The UK is weighing a similar decision, and could impose much more severe financial penalties. Clearview is also facing several lawsuits in the US, including an Illinois suit that alleges that the company collected biometric data without obtaining any form of consent.
February 7, 2022 – by Eric Weiss