Perhaps because it was announced on Google +, which I, like most of the universe, don’t really follow much anymore, I was unaware of Google Glass until a week or so ago. One of my news feeds had an article about a Seattle Dive Bar (really? Dive Bars in Seattle?) that had banned Google Glass, saying that “an a** kicking will be encouraged for violators” who dared to wear them at the 5 Point Cafe.
My first thought was ?? Who in the heck does a** kicking in Seattle? followed by ?? What in the heck is Google Glass? After a bit of research, I’m reasonably sure that if I were to visit Seattle soon, there’s very little chance that I would have my a-double asterisks kicked, at least for wearing Google Glass.
So what’s all the hubub about, Bub? Well, Google Glass is yet another weirdly innovative project from the Googlians down in Silicon Valley. It’s actually a pair of glasses that both send out what you see and provides you with information overlays. You can look at it as a way to expand your internet presence and reach, a horrible invasion of privacy, a loss of our humanity, a further melding of humanity and technology, or a physical manifestation of ADD. I suppose that it/they are all that and more.
So what are these things? They’re actually glasses, with a prism attached to the right bow on the glasses. This nifty little thing is basically a webcam, microphone and browser all rolled into one.
In use, you are sending data in sort of a cinema-verite way, and based on what the camera sees, you’re receiving datasets. If you’ve ever seen movies showing fighter pilots looking through helmets or windows that contain integrated data displays,
you might know what I mean.
But there’s more. “OK Google” you say, “what’s the weather?” will trigger an on-screen weather summary. “OK Google, email Jerry– Are you busy this afternoon?” supposedly sends an email to Jerry, and his response will appear in your vision. “OK Google, Tweet “Google Glass seems kinda stupid, and not funny-stupid in the “Big Bang Theory” kind of way.
Now there are a lot of things related to Google Glass that don’t seem to make much sense to me, including why it’s called “Google Glass” instead of “Google Glasses.” There are also the obvious privacy issues, which is why the 5 Point Cafe wants nothing to do with them, but honestly, the 5 Point Cafe isn’t a dive bar in the way that I understand them. For one thing, I’ve never heard of a dive bar that has a website, and when I look at their photos, it’s not much of a dive. But aside from that, how intrusive do we want social media to be in our lives? I suppose that it’s ultimately up to the end user, but homo sapiens is a pretty weird species, and I’m not sure if I can trust all of my fellow man to understand when to turn the darned things off.
There are also safety concerns for wearers. Imagine trying to drive with all sorts of data coming into your view whether you like it or not. Even pedestrians could logically be at risk– there are known issues with pedestrians being injured while texting and even talking on the phone, and I’m one of those who gets pretty peeved at people who talk while driving. Google Glass would be a lot worse.
Now I know that I sound pretty negative here, and that as this kind of technology progresses, our social norms, legislation, social pressure and other issues will follow along with both good and bad results, but right now, I think that Google is giving us yet another example of “just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should.” On the other hand, Google glass is very ripe for parody. If you want to see the official video, go to www.google.com/glass/start/ but I prefer the video below: