Privacy Pry: What is Google Glass?

What is Google Glass?

I’ve been wondering, just exactly, what is Google Glass? That question has been on the mind of many over the past couple of months, ever since Google announced the product. There are two main opinions circulating the Internet concerning Google Glass. There are those that consider it the next best thing — and those that consider it a serious violation of privacy.

Let’s take a deeper dive into Google Glass and then you can judge for yourself.

What Is Google Glass?

In a nutshell, Google Glass is the realization of a number of science fiction tales where individuals carry cameras built into a pair of glasses and are able to record anything going on around them just by looking at the action. Yes, I know, there are already numerous similar products that have been on the market for years. However, none of them include the functionality of Google Glass.

It’s true, those other cameras are all capable of taking and recording both still and video images. There are even some that make it possible to upload video to the web. However, Google Glass adds some unique functionality.

What is Google Glass?
In the end, will Google Glass be more about an invasion of privacy for some people? Photo Credit: Jenn Vargas

Beyond the Basics

Google Glass adds computing power to the video capture glasses we’ve seen in the past. One of the major features that sets this product apart from all the others that I’ve seen is the fact that it’s voice-actuated. What’s this mean you ask?

See something you want to take a picture of? No problem, just say the words “take a picture” and the glasses take a picture of whatever you’re looking at. See something unfolding live that is newsworthy? Just say the words ‘take a video” and you’re instantly your favorite news station’s newest live reporter, recording and commenting on events as they occur. Yeah, OK, sure, you can also capture video of your kid’s music or dance recital and not have to hold a camera through the whole thing. Just look at what’s happening and speak the magic words and you’re recording the event for posterity.

Yeah, OK, big deal, you say. I can take pictures and video without having to hold a camera, or LOOK like I’m holding a camera. So what?

Good question.

In the past, if you recorded a video or took pictures that you wanted to post to the Internet or send to friends and family, you had to either take the pictures or video with a cellphone or wait until you got home.

Not with Google Glass. Just tell Glass you want to post the images online and where you want to post it, and up it goes to the Internet. Immediately, automatically, and hands free and live, as it happens. Now you can don the glasses, strap on the snowboard and record yourself shredding that black diamond slope and easily post your dominance of the slopes for all to see.

That’s Pretty Cool, But is That It?

If all that Google Glass had going for it was that it let you take and post pictures and video quickly, easily, and hands free, it would still be pretty cool. But we’re talking about a product that has the power of Google behind it.

Not sure where you are or how to get where you’re going? Ask Google Glass and you’ll have a map of where you are and where you’re going superimposed on the screen. Going on vacation to a country where you don’t speak the language very well? No problem whatsoever. Like I said, with Google Glass, you’ve got the power of Google behind you.

If you’re not sure how to say something in the language of the country you’re vacationing in, just say something like, “Google say ‘I’m looking for the museum’ in Portuguese.”

It’s that easy. You can also ask Google to verify flight times and schedules for you.

What’s the Downside?

I know I may sound like a supreme advocate of how cool Google Glass is. I’ll admit that I like most of what I’ve seen about the product. However, I will be the first to admit that the product opens up a huge can of worms when it comes to privacy concerns. How do you stop someone from recording you, if you don’t want to be recorded and you don’t know they’re wearing a camera?

Personally, I think the product needs some sort of privacy controls. Your desire to record everything going on around you doesn’t trump my desire for privacy. There needs to be a way for those that can be recorded by the camera to opt-out of being recorded. Google Glass needs to build in the ability for others to say something like, “Google don’t record me,” and have it override the commands of the person wearing the glasses.

Photo Credit: Tedeytan