Doug Halsey

“We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” – Stephen Covey

Re-tasking Google Glass for Law Enforcement

Problem / Concept Statement:

With technology changing the way we work, play and learn it becomes important to think outside the box to utilize technology to work smarter, safer and to be better equipped to handle future threats of criminal activity.  In response to advances in technology the Federal Bureau of Investigations and Taser have all created technology that gather evidence and protect the integrity of law enforcement officers.

The FBI is currently working on the Next Generation Identification (NGI) Facial Recognition program at a cost of a $1 billion pilot program.  This program allows police with the Universal Face Workstation (UFW) program access to a central database of about 13 million images.  The FBI is currently partnered with Lockheed Martin and several law enforcement agencies in developing this system.

The Taser Axon is a point of view camera system consists of a head cam, control hub and record/playback unit with a 12 hour storage hard drive. It is currently being used by law enforcement and is an example of how documenting events can help with officer integrity and verification of criminal acts.

Each of these technologies and concepts were and are substantial advances in their respective fields. Yet because Google is a $200 billion dollar company, it can afford to make advances and mistakes in new markets, technologies and concepts.  Google’s “Project Glass” is a research and development program by Google (part of the Google [x] Lab) and for the last three years has been working on a way to increase an improved head-mounted-display (HMD) as a hands free Smartphone/mobile device that uses the Android operating system they own.

On June 27, 2012 Project Glass (now called Google Glass) gave a live demonstration of the hands-free Smartphone / mobile device.  In the demonstration Google Glass showed capabilities of interaction with the Internet via voice commands, and two-way audio and video communications. In its current form it has gyroscopes to sense user position, and is sturdy enough to be worn during a variety of physical activities.

Although developed for the consumer market to be slick, small and attractive, its capabilities can be easily re-tasked for law enforcement training.  This proposed concept of re-tasking Google Glass as a law enforcement tool goes far beyond the current capabilities of Taser Axon and similar products, because these products do not offer access to databases, voice control, video conference calling, etc.  However, by bringing together concepts already in use in law enforcement and combining with the capabilities of Google Glass, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can advance law enforcement data collection for counter terrorism, criminal activity and develop field uses for local law enforcement by partnering with Google during the 2013 beta testing phase. Who else but the DHS has the multiple uses and foresight to test and help develop this technology for the future of law enforcement?

We are at a point in time where the convergence of technology in both size and ability has been incorporated into this powerful but small device that can change the world of law enforcement. However, if DHS does nothing towards this advancement of this concept then it will not be taking advantage of preparing for future training that will be using these technologies.

Proposed Solution:

Partner with the FBI’s IT Branch, Google [X], and Georgia Institute of Technologyto bring together the Next Generation Identification (NGI) program and Google Glass technology and software. This would allow the DHS to test and use these tools to support officers and agents to use these technologies in the field.

The DHS’s unique mission and influence in federal law enforcement makes taking part in testing this new technology and three concepts of use are vital to the future success of federal law enforcement operations. Including the below concepts into DHS’s current preventive measures in counter terrorism will continue to demonstrate why DHS is the leader in law enforcement:


Three Concepts of Use for Re-tasking:

  1. Officer integrity monitoring and recording of criminal activity
  2. Access to software and data such as:
    1. Facial recognition software to identify terrorist and criminals
    2. Location / directions of criminal activity, residents, warrants, etc.
    3. Information on local statues, legal procedures (reference tool)
  3. Additional support via live conferencing with experts (Medical, bomb, legal advice, etc.)

Google Glass – A New form of Computing – Small, light, comfortable –has many smart phone capabilities.

  • Hands Free / Mobile Device / Phone
    • Voice controlled
    • Interact with the virtual world without distracting from the real world
    • Display is positioned above your eye – close to senses and does not block them
    • Multiple radios for data communication
      • Receive Text Messages
      • Record Video / Audio
      • Hangout – Live video conferencing (up to nine people)
      • Take pictures (time laps photography / 360 degree imagery)
      • Large memory, Powerful processor, & Cloud based computing & data storage
      • Navigation:
        • Gyroscopes, actuaries and compass
        • It knows where you are in the world and it’s in relationship to your body


Potential Benefits / Success Factors:

Phase #1 – The Here and Now Applications: (visual & audio communication via Wi- Fi)

pov suspect

POV of officer / field unit: Google Glass could be used to record the time an officer (up to nine in in a video conference – Hangout) leaves the car for a car stop to the arrest.

  • Monitoring of the situation: the officers could be monitored from a central location so that if back up support is needed it could be sent even before an officer could even call for back up (if they are even able to). It would also allow for another pair of eyes on scene to identify things the officer might miss such as a hidden gun or person. Thus an officer’s backup could instantly be sent where it was needed.
  • Remote Expert Guidance: on such things as bomb disarming, medical procedures, etc. could be called upon from an expert at HQ (or somewhere else in the world) who could see and hear what the officer is trying to accomplish and walk them through what to do.
  • Evidence Gathering: This concept system would deter crime and disorder, gather evidence, provide corroboration and protection, and show openness and accountability. “It helps me to keep my emotions in check and be more professional,” said Steve Roth, an officer of the Topeka Police Department for 19 years.   From January 2010 through December 2010 the National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project recorded 4,861 unique reports of police misconduct that involved 6,613 sworn law enforcement officers and 6,826 alleged victims.  This would also then benefit officers working in specialized roles where their actions are subject to close scrutiny and in rural areas, where officers mainly work alone (Appendix I).

POV of Training: (A point of view of the victim, officer or witness)

  • As in the field applications, an instructor could walk the trainee what to do in a training scenario as reinforcement in the learning process (Cognitive, Affective, and Psychomotor Domains).
  • Could be used when going over a shoot / no shoot training environment scenario.  Allowing for both the trainee and the instructor to see and hear what the trainee experienced.  POV from the student provides visual reference when explaining the student’s thoughts and justifications for use of force.
  • The Behavior Science Division (BSD) could use the POV video of the victim to see how the officer trainee interacts with the role player/victim.  This would allow for the trainee to see how their body language, facial expression, etc. may affect the victim.


Capability Gap:

Phase #2 – Near Future Applications: (access cloud database information / software via G3 phone)

Until the proposed function of Project Glass product (the hands-free displaying of information currently available to most Smartphone users, and allowing for interaction with the Internet via natural language voice commands) is combined with other technology such as the FBI initiated the Next Generation Identification (NGI) program there will be a time where the following is not available, but DHS could help beta test the system since we (DHS) are the foremost authority in Federal law enforcement in the world.  DHS’s role allows all these different technologies to come together quickly to be implemented in both training and beta test for future field use. Additionally, the final product model will include G3 / Wi-Fi just like a smartphone.

Multiple databases could be accessed: and process information from Google Glass while the officer is driving or walking around.  Fundamentally, computers in the cloud could process what the officers see and help identify criminal activity:

  • License plates reader: mobile license plate readers for police cars already exist (Appendix XI).
  • Mug shots: with advances in facial recognition software it is conceivable that police officers would see a visual overlay of previous arrests, convictions, outstanding parking tickets etc. when looking at a group of people. Obviously they could then also query all other information that is available about whoever they are looking at.
  • Access Other Identification: with the help of GPS, RFID tags and information obtained from mobile phone providers, officers could scan a crowd of people and identify most of them without needing to see their faces, simply by inferring their identify from the phone they are carrying. People carrying no mobile phone or disposable phones could then be highlighted on the HMD.  Thus giving the officer an idea of who might be trying to avoid being identified because they are a wanted criminal or they are involved in a criminal activity.
  • Google’s Street View: could be accessed to help direct an officer to a location.  Imagine a yellow line with an arrow (or colored specific line to the threat level) projected on the screen over the actual location of the officer, pointing the way.  Similar to the projected graphics and lines in a football game.
  • Maps, floor plans, known locations: of criminal activities could be accesses so the officer may know if the area they are searching relative to where they are (GPS).
  • Life Saving Information: on such things as bomb disarming, medical info, etc. could be called up when an officer is responding to a medical emergence when on scene.
  • Access Procedural Law and Jurisdictional Law: Imagine being able to access law or a judge who can review live or just captured footage to make a decision on arrest, warrants, etc.
  • Accessing data / information: imagine being able to use voice recognition software to access a translation of foreign language to help translate eye witness information to help find and arrest a crime in progress. Or receive expert advice from a doctor, district attorney, etc.



10 thoughts on “Re-tasking Google Glass for Law Enforcement

  1. I always emailed this website post page to all
    my associates, because if like to read it after that my contacts
    will too.

  2. Awesome website you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any forums that cover the same topics discussed here?
    I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get feed-back from other experienced people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Bless you!

  3. I love this article. I believe that you are exactly correct. I believe that Google Glass r-etasked for law enforcement will be a “game changer”. I work for a company that sells an android based video software application that actually address most of your concerns. We would be very interested in working with you and Google Glass, and DHS to offer a great solution. Call me if you have interest in pursuing this opportunity. I actually have 3 very large metro police departments that want to be a pilot.
    Bill Switzer
    Video Evangelist

  4. Imagine Google Glass for Law Enforcement

  5. We have reached out to Dr. Thad Starner of Georgia Tech. to see if they have interest in pursuing this line of “re-tasking” of Google Glass. We also currently have a large metropolitan police department that would like to be the pilot agency. Please let me know if you would like to be apart of this exciting new Endeavor. I will keep you posted as this unfolds.

    I have listed a video that showcases work that we did with the Office of Naval Research (Disruptive Technology Unit) in which we monitored the location and video in “real time” of navy seal units using smartphones.


    Bill Switzer
    Video Evangelist

  6. The police in Byron GA captured their first arrest on video while using Google Glass.

  7. Pingback: Law Enforcement Looks to Google Glass Technology | Net Transcripts Blog

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