What appeared to be the invention of the century from Google, that modern god, has become a center of controversy, since the device’s apparent benefits are overshadowed by possible health risks and especially by threats of invasion of privacy. The latter are a cause of concern for many, including government agencies and other organizations.
In order to understand how these glasses work, imagine that to boot up your computer all you need to do is look up and say “OK, Glass,” and you’ll immediately be able to see all the information just underneath your right eye, almost as if you had a laptop incorporated within you. This revolutionary diminutive piece weighs 36 grams (1.3 ounces), includes a 5 MPX photo camera shoots 720P video, has a 640x360px screen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, six-hour battery, gyroscope, and motion, location and direction sensors.
Its features are truly remarkable. The information assist allows us to accomplish an infinite number of tasks that include asking, searching, making reservations and buying tickets, sending information, reaching out over the phone, videoconferencing, taking photos, making videos and transmitting a live feed of what we’re seeing. And once again, all this is executed through a simple voice command or with a touch along the temple of the glasses, which functions as a mouse.
Google has been perfecting this ingenious device for years. Apart from allowing the user to hold a virtual meeting while sending a live feed, it can access maps, like Google Maps, and surface guides, which can help us for example to find a certain department or product within a megastore. It can even access instructions online for assembling a piece of furniture or household appliance. We’ll be able to access online stores to shop or find information without moving a finger, or log in to social media. All in all, with Google Glass, we would be able to forget about our smartphones, which is why the large cellphone makers are keeping a close watch on this technology.
Sound is vital for online communication. However, Google Glass doesn’t use any type of earphone. Instead, sound vibrations are transmitted through the temple of the glasses into the cranium and then to the interior of the ear.
The modern giant isn’t stopping there. There are still plenty of issues that must be patched and perfected, like the sound design, the speed at which videos can be watched, security in communicating, the glasses’ durability and especially the lack of applications. Expect to see notable enhancements to complement Google Glass uses.
Controversy began the moment that the glasses were announced to the general public. It was very easy for Google to spread the word of its product online without the use of advertising; instead the company simply gave them out to select bloggers, journalists and celebrities. Various media outlets announced the launch of the product, and controversy was sparked immediately, as social media spread the news. Many claimed that this apparatus would be an important tool for police and military use. However, the current functions don’t convince military personnel, detectives or even the government, since a light alert blinks each time a photo or video is taken, and the screen has a high luminosity for night use, which makes it easy to detect.
Another controversial subject is health risk. Studies and tests showed a high percentage of weariness and uncomfortable sensations, such as headaches, after using the glasses. Concerns persist that their long-term use may cause fatigue, visual discomfort and problems with memory and cognitive capacity. So the most important part of the health argument involves problems pertaining to sight. Google has had to offer a variety of solutions for any type of visual problem that the user may have. Also, first-time users tend to reject the glasses right off the bat, even if they don’t use eyeglasses themselves or have problems with their sight. As a result, Google has gone as far as creating glasses that can be graded or made into sunglasses.
After analyzing some of the pros and the cons, we get to the protagonist of the controversy, the barrier and enemy number one of Google Glasses: privacy. This is where we reach the breaking point; there’s already a list of places where it’s prohibited to enter with the glasses, and some governments don’t allow them and don’t want them in their countries. This small yet huge invention breaks completely with personal privacy, since it’s so easy to film, photograph and above all to send a live feed. It’s not the same to lift up a camera or a phone to take a picture as it is to look at someone in a restaurant and record while simply staring at them. England and other countries have banned use of the glasses while driving, and some restaurants, casinos, clubs, cinemas, theaters, shows, stadiums, banks and hospitals worldwide have told Google: Don’t look at me.
If Google Glass continues its penetration among large consumer markets, perhaps the most important change will occur in our daily lives, in the world of fashion, dress and in our behavior. The way human beings move on a day-to-day basis will change radically. In three years, we won’t need to look down to type or make a call. We’ll be looking ahead, toward the future and up in order to activate our brilliant Google Glass.