Like many, I plan on purchasing Google Glass the moment it becomes available. I have a feeling the novelty will only last a couple months, but I still want to experience augmented reality. Then, it will probably end up with my Xoom… on a shelf, collecting dust. But, that’s only because I live a pretty boring life, unlike the people in the video below.
I don’t exactly know what to expect yet, but I’m excited. Unfortunately, others are afraid of what they don’t understand. Take for instance an article posted on The Street titled, “Watch Out for Google Glasses.” Right from the start, the author has already misspelled the name of the product. He describes himself as having “… opinions on all things political and technological, occasionally well-informed” according to his Twitter bio. I think it is safe to say that today, he was not well-informed.
The article goes on to make ridiculous statements, with the most outlandish being that Google Glass will populate strangers’ displays with your personal information, including social security number.
Let’s say that I’m standing behind the counter at a business establishment — bank, fast-food restaurant, airline check-in counter, whatever. My Google Glasses might display the social security number, the general rap sheet, social media appearances, and so on, of the person in front of me.
Perhaps that’s a good thing. Some people will think it’s creepy, though. Can you imagine the bar scene when people start wearing Google Glasses? Within a second or two, you will have all available information about the person in front of you. Some of that information may not be so flattering.
Even if Google somehow could instantly recognize every random person you encounter, they would not provide personal information about them. I would not be surprised to see basic information about friends and family displayed once the product has been available for a couple years, but only from people who are in your Google circles. Even then, it will certainly never show Social Security Numbers. A 3rd party developer puts it well in the comments below his own article:
3rd party developer here (Android and Web-Development background). Posting personal information like SSN would be extremely difficult to do, and illegal without consent of the person who the personal info belongs to.
There are limitations to what anyone can do, especially within the realms of the hardware they have available. Do you really think that Glass is going to have the battery power to constantly scan its environment and constantly upload this information to the internet in order to provide the augmented reality that the author puts forth? There is no way this is a possibility.
Another main concern for the author is being recorded the moment he leaves his house. He seems to think that Google Glass has an infinite amount of storage space and bandwidth, literally recording and uploading a live feed to Google in real time.
Google Glasses will make all social/public interaction highly awkward. You’re on YouTube everywhere you go. A few short months after their introduction, Google Glasses could already be so widespread that you will be on camera once you stick your nose out your front door.
This just isn’t true. If you’ve ever recorded a long event with your cellphone, such as a child’s birthday party or little league game, you’ve encountered the limitations of these devices. Most newer phones only last a couple hours before either the battery is dead or the memory card is full. In short, people will not be recording everywhere they go.
Despite all of this, the author does raise a single valid point: will it be easier for people to record you without permission? When we take into consideration the storage and battery limitations of Google Glass, we understand that it cannot record continuously. Therefore, when you first encounter someone with Glass, they are most likely not already recording.
If they want to start recording at some point, they must verbally say aloud, “OK Glass, record a video.” There will probably be a way to do this manually from the keypad as well. Either way, there will be a noticeable action taking place to warn you. Could someone inconspicuously activate a recording in one room and then enter yours? Of course; it’s always a possibility. Still, I’m no more worried about being recorded next year as I am right now.
I feel that the author could have made a strong argument to show that Google Glass could be used for inconspicuous recording, which could be a serious problem. Unfortunately, he failed to do so, instead spending the duration of the article discussing non-existent, hypothetical possibilities as if they were fact.
Supplemental thoughts: I found one last technology error in the article worth mentioning.
Some people prefer to stay off the grid. They pay cash, they drive a car without GPS, they don’t have a cell phone, and they’re not members of online social networks. They have been able to stay out of most publicly available databases.
GPS is a one way system. Satellites orbit the Earth, transmitting their location and time to the ground below. GPS receivers triangulate position based on the time latency (see: distance) from each satellite. You could live your life “off the grid” and still use GPS; absolutely zero information is broadcast from the receiver’s end.