Revolutionary new wearable technology, Google Glass has been in and out of the news for over a year now. Upon it’s release in February of last year, the media was taken by storm. Another Google innovation – this time in wearable technology, and it’s super exclusive to boot. Exclusivity has a way of increasing demand; people tend to want what they can’t have. Google’s ultra-exclusive Explorer Program has only opened up on a handful of occasions, with a limited number of spots each time; the hype caused demand to skyrocket.
The sleek and streamlined head-gear features a single ear-bud and a small display in front of the right eye. Recent additions to the line of stylistic frames added by Google to the Glass line were born of Googles’s partnership with Italian eye-wear company, Luxottica. The Milan based company owns famous subsidiaries; the high end brands Oakley and Ray-Ban are marked with the Luxottica name. With the exception of the loud colors that one has an option to choose, the aesthetic design of Glass is meant to be elegant and unobtrusive; unlike the product itself. Google Spokesman, Jeff Bercovici is the executive leading the marketing for Glass. Bercovici commented that the mixed reactions and backlash were expected by the company, which has the deliberate intention of being “disruptive,” and disruptive it is.
A San Francisco woman was attacked, having her Google Glass torn away from her face as well as being robbed of the rest of her possessions. Thirty-four year old tech writer, Sarah Slocum signed up for Google Glass with one of the later waves of demand and became an Explorer in February. Shortly after receiving her Glass, Slocum was enjoying a night out at the bar with friends when a group of strangers began to taunt her about her new accessory. Shielding themselves from her inactive camera and responding as though Slocum was the harasser. As Ms. Slocum began to feel more threatened, she activated the camera on her Glass and proceeded to record. One of the males then grabbed the Glass and ran out of the bar with Slocum in pursuit. Slocum managed to retrieve her tech, but after returning to the bar, she found that her purse and wallet had been taken. Videos of the incident show Slocum also name-calling and acting with somewhat less decorum than a night out would warrant, but she claims that her behavior only reached that point after the harassment had already begun.
Slocum’s past may have come back to haunt her, throwing a wrench in the persuasive argument that common usage of Glass won’t mean an end to privacy. A history of restraining orders, one of which for filming people through the window of their home quickly caused the public to disregard her; and Google did not fulfill her request of a paid trip to the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas.
Google’s quest to be “disruptive” has certainly been accomplished. The group of people involved in the altercation with Slocum aren’t alone in their privacy concerns. The idea of constantly having a camera pointed at oneself is unnerving to most. Current Explorers claim that users can see when the device is recording, but recent allegations of hidden NSA surveillance scandals seem to keep the public teetering in the nervous state of “walking on eggshells.”
The Glass Explorer Program appears to be Google’s way of introducing the controversial new technology and new lifestyle paradigm to the public with “baby-steps” as well as acting as a giant teaser event each time the “limited openings” are mentioned in the news. If you find yourself counting coins and staying glued to your Rich Site Summary (RSS) feeds in the hopes of obtaining a spot in the next Glass Explorers opening, the exclusivity that Google explores with its sensation and demand building program might be the driving culprit.
By Faye Barton