Google Glass is expected to arrive later this year for less than $1500. Not without controversy, though. Some experts, including the Canadian cyborg Steve Mann, believe the augmented reality eyewear will cause strain and damage to the eyes, especially to children. The heads-up display may also distract the user from what’s happening around him.
More importantly, there are big privacy concerns that we have to face with Google Glass. Wearers can take photos and record images of people, things, and places around them. The issue is not the user experience of the one wearing Google Glass but the user experience of the people around someone wearing the eyewear. Aside from the possible annoyance of talking to someone who is distracted by other things, it will be hard to know if that person is taking a picture or video of you.
Mark Hurst made a good explanation of why this new technology can trigger an Orwellian nightmare.
First, take the video feeds from every Google Glass headset, worn by users worldwide. Regardless of whether video is only recorded temporarily, as in the first version of Glass, or always-on, as is certainly possible in future versions, the video all streams into Google’s own cloud of servers. Now add in facial recognition and the identity database that Google is building within Google Plus (with an emphasis on people’s accurate, real-world names): Google’s servers can process video files, at their leisure, to attempt identification on every person appearing in every video…Finally, consider the speech-to-text software that Google already employs, both in its servers and on the Glass devices themselves. Any audio in a video could, technically speaking, be converted to text, tagged to the individual who spoke it, and made fully searchable within Google’s search index.
Cord Jefferson of Gizmodo, meanwhile, believes Google Glass will enable men to take creepshots of women’s body parts more surreptitiously.
Months before the release of Google Glass, The 5 Point cafe/dive bar has banned the use of Google Glass inside their premises. Similarly, West Virginia lawmakers have introduced a bill that will make the use of Google Glass during driving illegal, as an extension of the no-texting-while-driving law. Also, a site called “Stop the Cyborgs” aims to stop a future in which privacy is impossible. The group opposes Google Glass in particular.
At the other side of the fence, many people think Google Glass looks dorky. Some people have also expressed intense hatred for the device due to the privacy concerns, to the point of threatening violence to future users. Wearers can therefore expect a wide range of negative reaction, from being stereotyped as nerdy or douche (for invading privacy) to antagonism and discrimation in some establishments, to outright violence. That is, of course, until Google Glass becomes mainstream and competitors get in on the bandwagon.