Google moves us one step closer to hands-free computerized eyewear with its Project Glass. On the horizon for 2014, this device contains a small Smartphone integrated into the eyewear. Essentially, you would be wearing an augmented reality, head-mounted display. And of course you can video what you are seeing. You would control all this with natural voice commands in a manner similar to iPhone users’ interaction with Siri.
As is always the case with technological innovation, we must consider its integration into the human culture. Certainly, there would be some amazing advantages. For example, you would be able to back up an eyewitness account with the video. A new employee could watch a seasoned worker demonstrate a technical procedure just once, retaining the video for reference. The possibilities are endless.
Project Glass promises many benefits for us all. Simultaneously, it opens up some disturbing dangers. Maya Baratz, writing for Newsweek (“Eye Spy: Beware Google Glasses” 7/16/12, p. 12), ponders these:
The thing that makes wearable computers like Project Glass appealing—their ability to fade into the background—is also what makes them potentially risky. Unlike camera phones, where lifting the device and snapping a picture will probably tip off your subject that he or she is being photographed, wearable devices can be on for hours, unobtrusively recording everyone in your line of sight and sharing the footage online. This is a threat to privacy you can’t opt out of by simply choosing not to use the technology; so long as other people are wearing the devices, you’ll have to assume you’re on camera.
Now on the one hand, I totally understand the privacy concerns. But on the other hand, with all the cameras and imaging devices up and running everywhere these days, hey—I just assume I’m on camera all the time anyway! So exactly where we choose to draw the line on this one is anybody’s guess.
I had to laugh at one of Baratz’s comments in her conclusion. She states the future of all this, “remains to be seen” (p. 12). If that isn’t apropos!
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