Wearable technology is, without doubt, the biggest and most exciting technology trend at the moment. One such device is Google Glass, a wearable Android-powered computer built into spectacle frames that can perch a display in your field of vision, record video and take pictures, browse the Web and translate on the go as well as run specially-designed apps. You’ll also be able to use Google Maps to get directions, although as there is no built in GPS receiver you’ll need to wirelessly tether the Glass to your smartphone. Google filed a Patent application for the Glass device which was published on 21 February 2013 (US2013/00440042).
Google Glass is not yet commercially available, but some first Glass units have been with early adopters (who had to sign up to a lottery for the privilege) since April 2013. Google is using this semi-public testing period to fine-tune the device for general consumption, as well as get the world used to the idea of wearable technology.
Obviously with any new technology there is the potential for misuse and Google Glass may be problematic when it comes to privacy. However, Google could argue that it is merely taking the functionality that we already have in our portable devices and making it more readily accessible.
Google has released some information regarding how you know when people are filming through the device, which should quash some people’s fears that the device will be used as a perving mechanism. Google also acted to remove an app that allowed photos to be taken silently via blinking, which could potentially have been abused. Facial recognition apps will also be banned from the Glass equivalent of Google Play following privacy concerns.
It’s important to note that there may be restrictions when you use Glass, both legal and social. Indeed, one early adopter has already been arrested for driving while ‘distracted’ by her Google Glass headset. On the other side of the legal coin, another member of the Google Glass Explorer program became the first Glass user to film an arrest using his headset. Some jurisdictions may frown on this kind of public oversight. A strip club and a bar have already earned cheap publicity by pre-emptively banning Glass.
One man who went to a cinema in the US wearing Google Glass was interrogated by FBI agents for an hour because employees thought that he was illegally recording the movie (his Glass was off).The incident, which took place in Columbus, Ohio, was complicated by the fact that the man’s Glass had prescription lenses. Had they been clear, he could have just taken them off to prove that he wasn’t interested in recording, but he needed them to see the movie, and the employees reportedly didn’t believe him. It took an hour for “the feds”, as they called themselves, to figure out that they could resolve the issue by checking what was on the man’s Glass.
There was speculation that Google Glass would launch before the end of 2013. However Google has announced that another round of invites will be sent out to those who wish to buy a Google Glass Explorer edition, with existing users able to invite up to three friends. This could mean that the original 2014 launch is more likely. In short, it will soon be easier to get a developer edition, but those wanting a proper consumer model will have to wait until well into 2014.