Used with permission by Nature Publishing Group

CSEE chair Anupam Joshi was interviewed and quoted in a news article What could derail the wearables revolution that appears in the current issue of Nature (v525n7567). The piece discusses on two issues caused by the rapid uptake of wearable technology: “finding improved ways to transmit data to and from wearables, and keeping all that information safe.”

The article described research on FaceBlock, a prototype application developed in UMBC’s Ebiquity Lab that can enhance personal privacy in environments with wearable devices like Google Glass.

“It’s a cliché that whenever there’s a new technology we start talking about Huxley and A Brave New World, but with wearables — and what’s loosely termed the Internet of Things — we truly are entering into a new era, and we have to start thinking of these issues,” says Anupam Joshi, head of the Center for Cybersecurity at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

In another high-profile incident, the introduction of Google Glass headsets two years ago triggered concerns that users would capture images of passers-by without their knowledge. Researchers at the Center for Cybersecurity took this opportunity to apply their work on computer codes that enforce privacy policies. They built the wryly named FaceBlock app, which blocks out the faces of people who have requested privacy from photographs taken by Google Glass. But for this to work, a Google Glass owner would have to opt in by installing the app. So the only way for such a system to reliably provide privacy would be for manufacturers to make it standard and implement it with dedicated hardware, says Joshi. “Let’s say that Google was to build in a feature like this into every Google Glass so that it would automatically obey these kinds of commands — then it would work.”

More information on the FaceBlock prototype and related UMBC research on privacy for wearable technology can be found in these papers.