Eyeglasses that help users protect their privacy by disabling facial-recognition systems in cameras have been developed and are set to go on sale in Japan, according to the National Institute of Informatics.

The Privacy Visor, created by the government-affiliated institute and an eyeglass maker in Japan’s Fukui prefecture, uses unique angles and patterns on its lens that reflect or absorb light. This prevents the recognition systems in digital cameras and smartphones from spotting a human face in a shot and focusing on it.

“The Privacy Visor is the world’s first product with this technology,” the institute’s Professor Isao Echizen told Japan Real Time. Mr. Echizen, who led the research, said his goal was to protect the privacy of individuals in a world where cameras and smartphones can automatically focus on people’s faces without them knowing, and where such images are shared widely on social networks. “We are often told not to unveil our personal information to others, but our faces are also a type of an ID. There should be a way to protect that,” he said.

Tests with cameras on smartphones showed that the eyeglasses were able to trick the facial-recognition system 90% of the time.

The glasses offer enough visibility for people to walk without trouble, but it may cause difficulty in driving or riding a bicycle. But Prof. Echizen said that the Privacy Visor is designed for use in crowded areas where others could be taking photos, and that drivers aren’t likely to require them while in their cars.

The glasses could also prevent security cameras from recording the face of a person, but Prof. Echizen said that its harm is limited since police investigations rely on other information as well to identify a person.

The Privacy Visor is scheduled to go on sale by June 2016 and is expected to cost about ¥30,000 ($240).

Image and article via The Wall Street Journal