Home > Cool Tech > Brilliant retroreflective sunglasses bamboozle…

Brilliant retroreflective sunglasses bamboozle facial-recognition algorithms

Why it matters to you

We live under a constant state of surveillance, but these clever glasses might help you stay hidden when you want a little privacy.

If you live in an urban area, you also live in a state of constant surveillance. Security cameras watch over every street corner and bus stop you visit, traffic cameras watch you pass through intersections on your way to work, and every person you pass by has a smartphone that’s ready to be whipped out at a moment’s notice. The average person is caught on camera over 70 times per day, and thanks to advances in facial-recognition tech, it’s now possible for governments and private corporations to not only recognize us, but also cross-reference our faces with other personal data found online.

Whether you like it or not, you are being watched — but that’s not to say there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s a new set of spectacles on Kickstarter that might help you bamboozle even the most sophisticated facial-recognition tech.

The Eko shades, as they’re called, are rimmed with a type of retroreflective material that bounces light back to exactly where it came from. Most surfaces reflect light by diffusing or scattering it in all directions, but this material is specially designed to reflect light back at the exact same angle as it arrived from. If caught in flash photography, Eko will send most of the light directly back to the camera’s sensor. In most cases, this will likely result in an image that’s underexposed for everything but the rims of your glasses — thereby making it much more difficult for facial-recognition software to identify you.

More: Bye-bye bifocals: These smart specs use liquid lenses to focus at any distance

The only downside, however, is that this clever design probably won’t help much for any camera that doesn’t require a flash, which means you’re still not safe from most security cams. The design certainly isn’t flawless, but it makes up for those shortcomings with a reasonable price. You can currently get your hands on a pair of Eko shades for about $45 on Kickstarter — which isn’t half bad for a set of stylish spectacles that’ll obscure your mug next time you roll through an intersection, or fuzz out your face when the guy sitting in front of you starts snapping selfies on the bus.