Project Glass – Thoughts

I’m surprised that Twitter didn’t blow up about this the way it did about Instagram on Android (glad to see that buzz is dying now). If you haven’t seen Google’s Project Glass yet, check the video.

I feel that I need to preface the following with this: I am primarily an Apple user, but I am also a fan of Google’s services. My choice in tech has no bearing on the opinions I am about to express.

Let’s put aside the notion that this technology isn’t available or accessible. Yes, Google’s video is obviously very ambitious and all CGI, but functioning personal HUDs have been in the works for ages. It’s just prohibitively expensive in most cases. Project Glass can work, and for all we know it may really take off. Or it could fall flat. That’s beside the point.

Here’s the thing. I like smartphones. They do a great job of staying out of my way. If it’s in my pocket, my awareness of it is limited to the knowledge that it’s in my pocket and I really hope it’s not been stolen. When I need to use it, I pull it out of my pocket, conduct my business, and then put it away. When it needs to get my attention, it merely vibrates or chirps, and I can ignore it should I need to. On my jailbroken iPhone, most of my modifications were tailored towards limiting my the OS’ ability to interrupt me. I feel less of an itch to check it every thirty seconds.

Everything that Project Glass showed me in that video is the exact opposite of how I want my information fed to me–forcibly. Not only do I have to wear it to use it, popups and alerts are constantly appearing right in my line of sight (forget walking around). I suppose the option might be there to automatically shunt everything to my peripheral vision, but you get the idea.
The idea of using it for video calls definitely turns me off–not only is it, again, right in my line of sight, but how does it handle the audio? How does it handle music, for that matter? Unless it’s piped directly to your ears (which is a terrible and dangerous idea), whatever conversation you’re having is broadcast to everyone within earshot. Either way, you’re that person talking into a Bluetooth headset (or worse–that guy blasting dubstep out of the Beats around his neck), except now it’s your eyewear.

Privacy is also a concern. Google’s mobile platform, Android, is known and loved for being open-source. Will Project Glass be delivered the same way? If so, what’s stopping someone from introducing functionality into the firmware that allows users to view personal information on the complete strangers you’ll undoubtedly run into, or at the very least covertly take photos of unsuspecting people? It’s worth thinking about. Hopefully, Google will seriously look into protecting user privacy with these glasses.

 

There’s also the far less important factor of how it actually looks on you.

 

It’s a cool concept. I’d like to think that we can find some amazing uses for this technology. Imagine what it can do for doctors, engineers, the military–there are definitely places where Project Glass can do wonders and I’d love to see that facet of it move forward. I just don’t know how I feel about it being used for content consumption on the go.

As a society, I think we’re distracted enough as it is.

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