With Google Glass and its competition changing the way people interact with and view the world, a new way of managing these interactions will become more common. Smart glasses offer consumers the ability to observe, scan and record the world around them in a package that was previously the realm of spy tech. Google Glass and its ilk are proof of a new age in which privacy is an integral consideration to development in the business and technology world. The ability Google Glass provides the user to subtly and seamlessly evaluate the world around them may violate the sense of privacy of those under the lens.
It is common knowledge these days that Google stores and manages information about individuals that use its services. This information is used to build online profiles of people. For now such profiles are used mostly for the purposes of advertising, but as Google expands their reach and technologies grow to match, the social networking options for user information increase. Take Google+ for example, where information is pulled from apps that allows users to log in with their Google username. Imagine an app that overlaid the Google+ information of people in the visual field of a smart glass user. A show called, Through the Wormhole, starring Morgan Freeman showed the possibilities, though admittedly he jumped ahead to smart contact lenses. With the right pair of smart glasses and a decent facial recognition program integrated into the right social and business apps, the future consumer could know at a glance if the person sitting next to them is single, where they like to shop and what movies they have seen.
The European Union Court of Justice recently ruled against Google’s attempt to share information in perpetuity. The court’s decision, five years in the making, required they remove irrelevant personal information or risk fines. This decision could have a ripple effect as established legal precedent on all internet search engines’ future privacy policies. The ruling itself is broadly phrased, so there is still a lot of determinations to be made on what and how to sift the irrelevant from the relevant. How they will determine what are legitimate concerns of accuracy in their searches remains an issue. Google will need either an army of staff or a clever new algorithm to comply with the requests already streaming in.
The nature of the smart glass technology is a portable internet connected filter between the user and the world. People on the other side of the glass may feel alienated. There is already a term for people who talk to their Google Glass in preference to engaging with the world: Glassholes. Perhaps this mocking term is a lash back from those standing awkwardly on the outside of new technology, or perhaps from legitimate privacy concerns. After a certain point it is likely that smart glasses and other wearable tech will become as common as the cellphone. In a future where information is power and privacy is being redefined, people may be willing to give up a bit of their information in exchange for a little of everyone else’s.
By Aliya Tyus-Barnwell