Hey Four Eyes!

April 25, 2013
Google Glass

By Antonio Zugaldia (http://www.flickr.com/photos/azugaldia/7457645618) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Google Glasses: Eyes Wide Shut

Remember when we thought smart phones were the pinnacle of man’s technological prowess? Google may be onto something that makes the iPhone look like your dad’s flip phone. I’ve been reading up on Google Glasses, hotly anticipated on the market by the end of this year (http://community.digitalmediaacademy.org/tag/when-will-google-glasses-come-out). The features are enticing but the implications to society in general may be ominous, reminding us once again that our technology is light years ahead of the discussion on these advancements’ ethical implications.

Features and Benefits

Google Glasses boast a litany of cool features. “Normal” usage allows for a full day of battery life, assuming you’re not out pretending to be Federico Fellini, filming the artful experience of waiting for your latte at Starbucks. Wi-fi enabled, you can experience the internet wearing the glasses as if it were 8 feet in front of you on a 25 inch screen. The glasses will come with audio as well using a (and I am not making this up) bone conduction transducer system that transmits sound waves to your skull. Look out George Jetson! Connected to the Google cloud, you’ll be able to access all of your stuff. Need directions? The glasses automatically upload your location data. They’re also blue tooth enabled and come with a 5 mega-pixel camera so you can take pictures like James Bond and nobody will know it. Wait…what?

The Downside

Many people, like James Kendrick of Mobile News have legitimate privacy concerns about Google Glasses.
http://www.zdnet.com/google-glass-privacy-concerns-come-to-the-head-7000014431/. Smart phones all have cameras but at the very least, you know when somebody is taking your photo. How comfortable are you knowing that anybody wearing those glasses could be snapping pictures of you or your kids? I also think that there is a great paradox with some tech advances. In one respect, instant access to information and the new avenues to communicate have been a boon to business, communication and social networking. However, is it possible to reach a point where so many options exist for preoccupation that we actually tune people around us out? Can we really focus on and enjoy a time and place when we have access to engage all of our senses at any time? I would have to assume that anybody wearing the glasses is predisposed and I would hesitate to engage them. Admittedly, that might be an upside for them.

A New Eco-System

Google has venture cap guys very excited. Investor John Doerr with Kleiner Perkins thinks that Google is creating a medium that will likely spur innovation with developers. “New platforms are rare, but can be transformational, when they’re based on great products with robust APIs, powerful distribution and outstanding entrepreneurs.” Just as the iPhone helped create and drive a culture, Google Glasses may be the springboard for a host of applications that eventually negate the need to get out of bed in the morning. I have to wonder if Google contact lenses are next.