This may be the year when eye glasses change forever. Rather than being a fashionable accessory for improved vision, the simple spectacles are to be revolutionized with the release of ‘Google Glass’ later this year.
What is Google Glass?
Google Glass is a wearable and effective computer made in the form of a pair of smart glasses. The glasses will consist of a frame with built-in battery and transparent display screen.
According to a concept video placed on Google’s Youtube channel, users will be able to view texts, maps, reminders, take and share photos, video chat and make videos via hands-free voice commands.
At a TED presentation last month, Google co-founder Sergey Brin introduced Google Glass and promoting the idea where the glasses will make computing and the internet accessible to anyone, anywhere and anytime.
Brin compared the glasses to smart phones, stating phones causes people to be anti-social. He said with regard to smart phones, “Is this the way you’re meant to interact with other people…It’s kind of emasculating. Is this what you’re meant to do with your body?”
Google has even been running a competition called Project Glass, which called for applications from the public. They were asking for people who wanted to be the first to test the glasses. The prize? The opportunity to be one of the first to buy Google Glass for US $1,500.
Concerns Over Google Glass
The public release of Google Glass was originally set for 2014 but recent reports have anticipated a rescheduled release date at the end of 2013, in time for Christmas.
The development of the glasses has not received unanimous praise. Questions have been raised over privacy and possible health concerns.
The tests have already shown that the video function on the glasses raises serious privacy issues. Users will be able to constantly record individuals, places and events and upload the footage almost instantaneously without the permission of the individuals involved. When the Google Glass becomes integrated with an individual’s prescription lenses, it will be virtually impossible for individuals to know whether they are being filmed. The only way to compromise is to request the user to remove their frames.
An experiment has been done with this issue. Joshua Topolsky, a technology journalist from The Verge, entered a Starbucks wearing the glasses with a TV crew. The crew were requested to stop filming but Topolsky continued to film the Starbucks staff through his glasses, without their consent.
Topolsky even bragged about deceiving the staff with his glasses in his article. He wrote, “I got the impression that most people had no idea what they were looking at. The cashier seemed to be on the verge of asking me what I was wearing on my face but the question never came. He certainly never asked me to stop filming.” (The Verge, 2013).
One particular bar in Seattle called ‘The 5 Point’ have already announced a ban on the glasses via their Facebook page. The bar owner, Dave Meinert, claimed the bar has a seedy reputation and the glasses are a threat to the privacy of our customers “who come here not to be known”.
The Glass Future
For many people, Google glasses represent what type of gadgets people will be using in the future. Like many innovative products today, Google tries to innovate things and at the same time, improve our present day services. Let’s also not forget that these gadgets will be an influence on how we shape our lives in the future. The excitement for Google Glasses is very understandable but it does raise some ethical concerns like privacy. People do realize the convenience and advantages that gadgets (not just Google Glasses) bring but any invasion of their privacy in this digital age is also a cause for outrage. In addition, people will be avoiding the person wearing the gadget in fear that they are being recorded and the content shared without their permission.
There is still time for Google Glasses to be polished and refined in many areas. In many ways, Google Glasses already made its mark.
Article by Sharon Freeman who writes about health and eye care for companies such as Paul Taylor Eyewear