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The NYPD Is Testing Google Glass for ‘Patrol Purposes’

The agency reportedly obtained the high-tech eyewear through the Google Glass Explorer program. Google says it isn’t working on the project with any law enforcement agency.
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The watchful eye of the NYPD could already be staring at you through Google Glass.

The New York Police Department apparently obtained the high-tech specs just like anyone else would -- through the Google Glass Explorer program, VentureBeat reported.

“We signed up, got a few pairs of the Google glasses, and we’re trying them out, seeing if they have any value in investigations, mostly for patrol purposes,” a city law enforcement official told VentureBeat.

Google, however, does not endorse the law enforcement beta-testing and says it isn't working with any law enforcement agencies as far as Glass is concerned.

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“The Google Glass Explorer program includes people from all walks of life, including doctors, firefighters and parents. Anyone can sign up to become a Glass Explorer, provided he or she is a U.S. resident and over the age of 18,” the company said in a statement to VentureBeat.

Even if Google isn’t totally keen on the idea—for now—the potential application and implications seem almost limitless. The technology could be used to check criminal databases warrants and mug shots, record events and be integrated with facial recognition technology. Videos and photography, which are more reliable than any memory, could replace or supplement hand written reports, saving time and preserving objectivity.

Related: Wearable Tech: 5 Obstacles to Going Mass Market

Wearable devices, however, also have potential for abuse, critics point out, and in some cases, could violate civil rights.

The NYPD says it's still too early to tell if Google Glass will actually become a standard tool for its officers. But if it does, that could mean an order of more than 34,000 from the world’s biggest law enforcement agency. And if others follow in its footsteps, law enforcement agencies could represent some of Google’s best customers, an image its not likely to embrace. 

Related: The Pros and Cons of Google Glass for Business Travel