29 May 2013

Google Glass

Wearable computing has come a long way

I think you can break down most of the aversion to Google Glass into these concerns:

  1. Privacy concerns about its camera and the way it might surreptitiously take pictures
  2. A safety concern such as it being a distraction while driving
  3. A social concern about how its users interact with other people
  4. How it looks

Concern number 4: We live in a world where people walk around with Bluetooth headsets in their ears at all times and where having your pants pulled down to show your underwear is a fashion. I honestly don’t have a problem with either of those things. Though, it does make me wonder why—if others are doing those things—I don’t wear my very comfortable renfaire garb everyday. I’m not convinced this will be a significant hurdle.

The second and third concerns: I think for most people, these concerns are more about behavior than technology. If people don’t use the technology in a way we consider rude or dangerous, then we don’t mind them using the technology. We’re not banning mobile phones, though we are banning and discouraging their use in certain contexts.

I suspect number 1 is the biggest issue. (Arguably it’s a subset of concern number 3, but it is a very significant subset.) On the one hand, you can argue that, even without Glass, we’re already living in a world where we may be unknowingly photographed or filmed† by surreptitious cameras. On the other hand, you can argue that, in practice, Glass exacerbates the situation.

(Of course, most of the arguments against the camera also apply to the microphone. It’s even easier to surreptitiously record audio today without Google Glass than video, though.)

Whether it is a valid concern or not, I suspect merely eliminating the camera might be the best thing to do to make Glass more acceptable. While that does also eliminate a whole host of features, we can still have those features on our phones.

†It might seem strange to use “to film” here, since film is not involved. Then again, “to film” itself strikes me as a fairly strange verbification of a noun. Yet, its use here feels very natural for me. Language is weird like that. Read it as “video’d” if you prefer.

Image attribution: By Glogger at en.wikipedia Later version(s) were uploaded by Dgies at en.wikipedia. (Transferred from en.wikipedia) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons from Wikimedia Commons

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