Google Glass Can Take Photo with Wink

LOS ANGELES (Los Angeles Times/MCT) -

If you see someone wearing Google Glass wink at you, you might want to get out of the way. A new app that’s just been developed and released for the futuristic piece of technology lets users take a photo by simply winking an eye.

The code for the app, which is conveniently named Winky, was put online Thursday morning by developer Mike DiGiovanni, who works with digital consulting company Roundarch Isobar. He announced the app, saying that there’s a surprisingly big difference between winking to take a picture and taking a photo the way Glass is supposed to, which is by tapping on its touch pad or saying “OK Glass, take a picture.”

“Winking lets you lifelog with little to no effort,” DiGiovanni says online. “I’ve taken more pictures today than I have the past 5 days thanks to this.”

But as convenient as Winky is, there are clear privacy concerns with the technology. Stop The Cyborgs, an online organization that wants to limit the use of Glass because of privacy concerns, said apps like Winky are why Glass can come off as creepy.

“If the technology is open then it can be hacked to create creepy apps like this where people have no warning they are being recorded,” Stop The Cyborgs said in an email Thursday.

David Jacobs, the consumer protection counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said Glass has the potential to enable pervasive and secret surveillance, but there are steps developers can take to give others warnings that pictures are being taken.

“This privacy risk can be reduced by providing notice to surrounding individuals that they are under surveillance by, for example, including a light that illuminates during recording or a shutter sound for pictures (or having either feature activated by voice command),” Jacobs said in an email Thursday.

And DiGiovanni said his app does give users warnings. He said Winky will make a camera-shutter-like sound when it takes a picture, and others around the person wearing Glass can see the device’s screen light up after a photo is taken.

But besides that, DiGiovanni said he doesn’t think Glass is a very good device to be creepy with, because in order to take a picture or shoot video, you have to point at your subject with your face. Instead, he thinks spy cameras or smartphones would be less conspicuous.

“It seems easier to take a picture I shouldn’t be taking if I was doing it on my phone than looking directly at them and taking it with Glass,” he said Thursday.