Daria Kurilo

05.A01. Technology

The Google Glass Dilemma

Featured Image © Ars Electronica

‘Project Glass’ is the name given by Google to their project to develop augmented reality glasses, known as ‘Google glasses’ to be available some time in 2014. Here, Daria Kurilo looks at some of the potential advantages and issues thrown up by these groundbreaking new devices.

Google Glasses are essentially a wearable computer with a tiny head-mounted screen that will show information in a Smartphone-like display, except of course it will be hands free. How will it be configured? Well, the user will be able to interact with the Internet via voice commands through the use of his/her natural language. The glasses can be used to perform a wide range of tasks such as taking pictures, recording videos, sending messages to other users – and they allow the wearer to share the videos and photos they take direct to the internet. You can even ask Google whatever is on your mind, any question you want, embracing the famous phrase ‘Google’s your best friend’.

Certainly this piece of new technology raises many issues and debates on how it should be implemented and used. In some respects it is just like a Smartphone, containing many of the same functions – and like iPhone’s ‘Siri’ it will operate via voice commands – the only difference being that it is hands free. So what is all the concern about? There was a time when the idea of a phone with a camera was a concept that scared people. People thought that it would breach the boundaries of privacy as they didn’t know when they were being photographed or recorded on video. In more general terms the same outcry occurred when mobile phones came into existence until they became a normal part of everyday life. Nowadays it is crucial to own a mobile phone with a camera to be able to communicate with people at anytime, anywhere in the world, and be able to capture moments and experiences without having a set of different small devices to do so. Google Glasses, on the other hand, take communication and capturing moments to a whole other level.

Evolutionary Step, or Simulated Reality?

Maybe it is an evolutionary step or a simulated reality? Is it something that won’t become a part of everyday life, but something that will become us; a society where you wear Google Glasses everywhere you go in order to capture every moment of your life, so that others can watch your life through your eyes instead of theirs? It will definitely bring societies closer and bring a new meaning to everyday life. Being able to capture the good moments and share the experiences with your loved ones is great, but this also means that there will be bad moments captured as well. Google Glasses could potentially keep people honest thanks to the tiny videoing device. In terms of crime, it could be highly beneficial in protecting victims who have Google Glasses – as all the videos that are recorded would be immediately stored in Google’s cloud based file storing service Google Drive. Even if the Google Glass user isn’t the victim but records a crime in progress, this would profoundly aid the police by providing evidence against criminals.

Privacy, Safety and Other Issues

Nonetheless, some restaurants, bars and other public places aren’t too keen on this new technological device. Some establishments are considering placing bans on the glasses with a sign that prohibits them – their reasoning being that the public won’t know when they are being filmed with the glasses. These establishments believe that it might affect their business with people feeling uncomfortable about coming to their place. This is understandable as it is a protection of the customers’ privacies. However this can also have a negative effect in the long term as it would be a separation of people who do have Google Glasses and people who don’t, which could lead to discrimination towards people who own the device.

Lawmakers are even trying to ban drivers from wearing Google Glasses as there could be a risk of possible distractions. With notifications constantly popping up right in front of your eyes the devices could be a cause of future accidents, with lawmakers believing they could amount to the same hazard as texting while driving. On the other hand there could be some benefits to using the device while driving. Google Glasses would have a built in GPS so that you can ask for directions. This is obviously better than having to look down away from the road on to the dashboard to see what the screen of the GPS is showing – and this also applies to mobile phone functions. Ironically though, having a small TV inside the car is acceptable but seeing updates on your glasses isn’t!

So there is already some controversy about Google Glasses, which brings up the issue of whether it is okay to start banning the product before it has even been released – and before we even know everything about it. A lot of the details of the device are being kept secret by Google; therefore it is difficult to judge the device when there isn’t a lot of information on it available. Moreover, it doesn’t have a history of being dangerous and there is nothing like it to know if it could be dangerous – so why jump to the conclusion that it could be a safety hazard or an invasion of privacy? But then again should the risk be taken if it does cause problems? And the amount of time that it will take to solve them? Who knows? Either way we do know where Google Glasses are right, and that is the next level of communication and experience which it offers.

Featured Image © Ars Electronica

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