Since the first announcement of Google Glass, new controversies over the technology’s place in our society have raised many concerns over privacy. Some argue that the device is insecure and could pose a serious threat to the users security systems. For many, the possible application potential – and profits – which could be generated by this kind of consumer device, are just too great to pass up.
Many advocates are excited by the possibilities this type of technology brings. People like J.S. Rajkumar, a Laparoscopic surgeon from India for instance, who believes Google Glass could help rural surgeons by giving them access to other experts. These experts could then provide guidance through complex emergency procedures. Officers in New York Police Department are also testing Google Glass potential as a law enforcement tool, while Virgin Atlantic Airlines has announced they will be testing Google Glass for potential use in their operations.
With Google Glass projected to be released by the end of the year, the debate over how society will adapt to this kind of technology has only intensified. Across the world, lines are being drawn; in the UK, a spokesperson for the Department of Transport was quoted as saying “We are aware of the impending roll-out of Google Glass and are in discussion with the police to ensure that individuals do not use this technology while driving,”
In the US, the West Virginia Legislature has proposed a bill which would ban the use of Google Glass while driving. The bill describes the device as a “wearable computer with head mounted display,” despite its common use by many as prescription glasses.
In California, the case against Cecilia Abadie for wearing Google Glass, was thrown out. The device was classified by an officer as a “monitor,” violating state law. Court Commissioner John Blair threw the case out saying there was no proof the device was on while she was driving.
Where and when this kind of technology can be used legally, is still very ambiguous. Theater chain AMC announced in a letter to Business Insider, that wearing a device such as Google Glass – which has the ability to record video – is not appropriate in a movie theater. This came after a movie goer was questioned by Homeland Security about his prescription Google Glass device. There was also an instance in a restaurant in Seattle, WA., when a patron was asked to leave for refusing to remove their Google Glass device. Later, the Lost Lake restaurant posted the establishment’s policy towards Google Glass on their Facebook page saying that if anyone wears Google Glass, filming or photographing inside without permission, they will be asked to stop, or leave.
This type of policy could prove to be troublesome for users who plan to wear Google Glass as prescription lenses when their device is off. Concerns about individuals privacy has remained a heated issue since the device was first proposed. Some believe the device can be used to record private encounters without the other person ever being aware. In response, Google product director Steve Lee spoke to Time about the new controversies surrounding Google Glass, in an attempt to educate the public about the device. Lee explained that the company purposely mounted the display above eye level, forcing the user to look up and away to view the screen. “Once you’re around someone with [Google] Glass,” Lee said, “you’ll know they’re paying attention to you because they’re looking at you.”
Lee also explained that many recording features of Glass required visible social queues, such as tapping the rim of the lens or speaking out load. The display will also light up whenever the device is in use. Google has stated they would not allow any applications which would not light the screen when in use.
Although many of the devices visible social queues are implemented by design, claims that Google Glass has already been “Jailbroken” do little to ease the tension. Hacker Jay Freeman, known as “Saurik,” posted details on his website about how he opened the device for personal customization, then expressed concerns over Google Glass’ security measures. Stating that the device, because it can potentially record everything you do, could compromise many other security systems.
Freeman put it this way, “A more subtle issue is that, in a way, it also hacks into every device you interact with. It knows all your passwords, for example, as it can watch you type them.” Further, he said “It even manages to monitor your usage of otherwise safe, old-fashioned technology. It watches you enter door codes, it takes pictures of your keys and it records what you write using a pen and paper.” He closed with this dire warning, “Nothing is safe once your Glass has been hacked.”
Despite all the issues facing Google Glass and its tech, many competitors are racing to produce their own “Smart Glasses.” An official with Samsung Electronics told Korea Times that they were working on a similar system “The new smart glass to be introduced by Samsung is a new concept of wearable device that can lead to an exciting culture of communication.” Sony is also said to be in development of of a unique style of “smart” glasses
No matter the reactions or the next new controversy, Google Glass is still scheduled to be release by the end of 2014. While no prices have been officially released, Google has stated that Google Glass should be well under the price of their current Explorer model, which sells for around $1,500.00
By Eric Ohm