So we at Rabbit & Hare can’t quite make up our minds about Google’s soon to be launched Glass project, one half of us can see how fun it would be to be surf the web without lifting a finger, the other can only see the Orwellian future of invaded privacy and lost human interaction as the user is transformed into a walking camera zombie for Google’s ever growing power network.
For those who aren’t really aware of the project, Google Glass is the first mainstream progression from the smartphone into a wearable piece of technology. It allows you to view a tiny screen which is supported in front of your right eye by a pair of smart glasses Trekkie would be a fan of) that allow you to take photos, stream video and connect to social networks.
The possibilities are endless, well maybe not, but surely there’s more to this than videoing your daughter as you spin her around by her arms, as is the focus of their (maybe telling) distracting promo video. It could genuinely help and save people’s lives, for example if used by a medic or technician in remote locations. Or it could equally end up as another geek’s plaything, used only rarely and indulgently… like a Segway.
The latter doesn’t seem likely though, with all of Google’s backing, and with the ease and speed we absorbed the iPhone and iPad into our daily lives. I imagine within the next year you will see a ‘Glasser’ strolling around Old Street yourself, which as a somewhat skeptic and pessimist I am not entirely thrilled about.
The possibility of being filmed in public locations and instantly uploaded on to the web may seem like an old hat fear, but the difference now is that it can be done without your knowledge, mid conversation to someone. To those who say ‘who cares if you’re caught on film, you are already on CCTV everyday’, the difference is that there could potentially be ten million of these Glass cameras in a city as opposed to ten thousand CCTV cameras and only one monitor, the web, as opposed to the thousands of private ones supporting the CCTV networks. This has already led to one bar in Seattle banning Google glass from its premises before it has even been released for privacy reasons. Another potential problem is the distraction factor, would you want to have a conversation with someone who could be simultaneously watching cat videos on YouTube without your knowledge?
I don’t want to come across as a technology fearing naysayer, there’s no doubt that wearable technology is the future and I’ve got to admit that the augmented reality possibilities of the technology could be really exciting and game changing. Imagine being able to navigate a city without having to get your map or smartphone out, the separation between technology and usability is removed. I just hope that the reality isn’t as dystopian as this fantastically frightening parody or as believably hilarious as this one