August 6, 2017 11:02 am JST

Small Japanese city crowdfunding privacy eyewear

What looks like a pair of glasses confuses facial-recognition software

By tilting the lenses up 10 degrees, wearers of the second edition of the PrivacyVisor will be able to slip by facial-recognition software unidentified.

TOKYO -- An improved version of eyewear designed to throw off facial-recognition software is now being crowdfunded by a small city in Western Japan.

The maker behind the remodeled PrivacyVisor is Maezawa Mold, an eyeglasses parts maker in Sabae, Fukui Prefecture. Professor Isao Echizen, an expert in privacy protection at the National Institute of Informatics, is helping out with the project.

The new PrivacyVisor will look similar to a pair of ordinary glasses and less like a visor. A prototype's frames and its two lensesare made of plastic; it weighs 23.5 grams.

The privacy protection function can be engaged by tilting the lenses up by 10 degrees. This allows them to reflect the light around the eyes and throw off facial-recognition software, now omnipresent, on smartphones and the internet.

The PrivacyVisor is to be priced at less than 20,000 yen ($181) once it hits the market, perhaps in February.

But Sabae officials announced on July 31 that the city will list the glasses on its Faavo Sabae crowdfunding platform through Sept. 29. Backers who pitch in 10,000 yen will receive a pair of the glasses.

The fundraising goal is 5 million yen. But if the campaign fails to reach the target, the city will grant support funds to Maezawa Mold.

Last year, Nissey, a Sabae-based distributor of glasses-related materials, commercialized the first PrivacyVisor. Nissey has cooperated with Maezawa Mold on the new model.

Maezawa Mold expects to sell 10,000 of the new PrivacyVisors a year.

 

(Nikkei)

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