We sat down with Hisham El-Halabi, Founder & CTO at Auctify to get his perspective on data security and privacy in the smart glasses industry and how his company is looking to completely overhaul the public's perception.
What are the biggest challenges of data security and privacy within the smart glasses industry?
The biggest data security challenges associated with smart glasses are very similar to that of smart watches, and mobile devices. In these cases, users often do not have control over the data that is collected, it is difficult for user data to remain anonymous due to the specificity of the data (specifically in regards to devices equipped with cameras), and many large companies tend to derive inference from the data, repurpose it and use it for customer profiling.
The main [privacy] concerns with smart glasses in the past were a result of the ambiguities of integrated camera usage. Users had control of the camera in the case of Google glass, but there was no indication of when they were recording from the camera or taking pictures. As a result, people became concerned they were being recorded without their consent whenever they saw someone wearing Google glass (which led to Google glasses being banned from a number of bars).
What do you think the future of security and privacy will be in smart glasses? Who owns the data that a user sees?
The future of data security for smart glasses relies on companies being completely transparent with their users about what is happening to their data and what it is being used for. Users should own the data that is collected from them, and should be responsible for deciding what applications their data is used for.
Part of the reason Google Glass didn't take off was because of privacy reasons. What can manufacturers do to change the public's perception of smart glasses data security and privacy?
Smart glasses manufacturers need to be completely transparent with their users about what they are doing with their data. If the user has control of the camera like with Google glass, there should be a very clear indication of when it is recording such as an LED lighting up next to the camera. At Auctify, user data privacy is one of our top priorities, which is why all the data collected by Specs is encrypted and sent securely over Bluetooth to the user's phone. All the data processing for activity recognition is done directly on their phone's hardware and immediately discarded afterwards. Since no external servers are involved with this process, the user's sensor data never actually leaves their phone's hardware, and users don't have access to the camera to take pictures or record others. Our system architecture is designed so that it is physically impossible for someone to access user data without breaking into their phone and decrypting it. We believe communicating this to our customers is key to developing a trustworthy relationship and making them comfortable using our hardware to achieve their goals.
For more information about Auctify, please visit their website: https://auctify.ca/