Google Glass – The next big global debate

Are you excited about the Google Glass concept? You know, the glasses that essentially have a heads-up display or a smartphone like functionality built into them. There were a couple hair raising articles coming out this past week which really should cause you some concern.

There is a Google Glass app that can be used to identify people in public places based on the clothes that they wear. What’s interesting is that when you read comments from people for that story, you have some arguing that it’s an invasion of privacy and on the flip side some people are saying we can all record with smartphones nowadays so what’s the big deal.

Today I’m reading that a bar in Seattle is already banning Google Glass from their establishment. As they mention in the story, the bar owner knows their clientele and most prefer keeping a low profile. Being recorded isn’t desirable apparently to their patrons. Call it clever marketing, but that particular Seattle bar is getting some headlines over this policy and it’s raising more debate.

If you aren’t the least concerned about the “big picture” as it relates to these Google Glass glasses (what will people actually call these?), then you likely should prepare yourself now. I will point out that so far, there is a divide and a debate about Google Glass. It’s just like so many debates where people likely will never change their beliefs and there will be extreme opinions on both sides. Because of that, it’s great for Google because everyone is going to know about this product.

The first question I ask to anyone wanting Google Glass is why. Why would you need to venture out onto the streets or in public with these? I get the fact that some people need to buy the latest and greatest gadgets out there and perhaps that’s what’s driving this. To be the first? That certainly accounts for a lot of this interest.

The other aspect of Google Glass is that they will be app driven just like smartphones are. So if you can think of it, and even if you can’t think of it, there are people out there who can think of something bizarre and privacy infringing that makes use of the Google Glass camera. Identifying people in a public place based on their clothes would just be the tip of the iceberg. So also consider that when you encounter a person wearing Google Glass that they may have some app running which is processing your image or what you’re doing. I would argue that it’s different to hold up your smartphone and point it at somebody vs. wearing glasses that look somewhat “normal” yet can record and take pictures without you actually knowing it.

I’ve also read other comments from people who actually suggest they would inflict harm on a Google Glass wearer. Yikes! Well if a stranger came up to you on the subway and stuck an iPhone towards your face, would you have a problem with it? If they are pointing a smartphone at you the intent is obvious. They are taking a photo or video of you. I don’t imagine people would react well in that situation so why would the average person be more okay with that situation if it was Google Glass pointing at you?

The fact is Google will push these out. It might cause public debate but is that really going to be enough to snuff them out in the name of privacy? It’s new technology so who really knows the good that came come of them. They may have incredible use for the military or police, but again consider the uphill battle governments have on installing video cameras on transit systems and in public places. It would be comical if Google Glass can get into the public in mass and avoid all the legal wranglings that have stopped the proliferation of state/city run video camera surveillance.

Take a pause and think about where this is headed. Kind of scary really any way you slice it. The fact that the public will be divided down the middle on this? That ensures that Google Glass will make it onto a face near you.

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