Your guide to Google’s new product
Pictures and videos are taken, directions are shown, and games are played without even using hands. Google Glass is a set of glasses being developed by Google which are similar to what a wearable smartphone might be like, except it can do much more.
At a simplistic level, it can take pictures and videos using the small camera at the upper right side of the glasses (from the user’s perspective), and if you get headphones, you can listen to music.
However, if you connect Glass to the internet through your phone, using the glasses as a bluetooth device, or a wireless network, it can carry out handy tasks such as searching the internet, translating, sending messages, giving directions, and video chatting. Also,a long list of applications are already available for Glass on the website googleglassapps.org. Developers have even found a way to play games through head movement.
Google Glass is also very customizable: it comes in 5 different colors (charcoal, tangerine, shale, cotton, sky) and 7 different designs in two different groups. The first 4 are made specifically by Google, and are given descriptions by the them as well.
According to google, the Bold design has “thick frames with rectangular lenses” and is “designed to make a statement,” the Split design has “thin frames with rimless bottom lenses” and is “designed for the cutting edge,” the Curve design has “thick frames with round lenses” and is “designed to suit your classic, sophisticated side,” and the Thin design has “thin frames with rectangular lenses” and is “designed to be versatile.”
The second group which holds the other 3 designs are “twist-on” shades with polarized, impact-resistant lenses made by Maui Jim and Zeal Optics. The Edge style is described as “a modern look with gradient lenses” (which are similar to those you might wear in an IMAX theatre), the Active style is called a “shade for everyday wear,” and the Classic model is “a timeless look with gradient lenses” (which look a lot like the Edge model but have more rounded lenses). Glass can also work with prescription lenses.
While these technological marvels are not yet being mass-produced, Google is currently hosting the a beta testing system named the Glass Explorer Program that allows United States citizens older than 18 years to “get involved early and help shape the future of Glass,” as Google says. However, signing up will not ensure you will be invited to join the program, and the cost of Glass is $1,500 before tax if you are offered the opportunity to buy it through the program.
Some feel the invention in beta testing is not worth their time as there is some controversy concerning privacy. A website named “Stop the Cyborgs” have created symbols, signs, and stickers to create “Glass free zones” in which the use or wearing of Google Glass is discouraged. Adam is one of the three largely anonymous college students that created the site.
“If it’s just a few geeks wearing it, it’s a niche tool [and] I don’t think it’s a problem,” Adam says. “But if suddenly everyone is wearing it and this becomes as prevalent as smartphones you can see it becomes very intrusive very quickly. It’s not about the tech, it’s about the social culture around it.”
Put in terms of high school, if Google Glass was worn at school a third eye would be present for every pair of eyes wearing the gadget. Anything could be recorded and the act wouldn’t even look different from just wearing Glass. Also, being able to be perscription makes Glass necessary for people who require glasses in places such as locker rooms and bathrooms, or at such times as during a test. Being dependent on a device that gives such an advantage to the wearer becomes very inconvenient.
Zach Poskin, a junior who describes Glass as an “in real life heads up display” ( or an IRLHUD), feels “It really does violate privacy.”
“As far as simple rights go, this is a topic that really bothers me,” Zach says. “The problem with Google Glass, and companies that violate privacy, is that they are not following the constitution. It’s not so much Google Glass as it is the corporations that have access to the technology. It’s not the technology. It’s the people behind the technology.”
However, Nick Huckabay, a senior, says, ““It’s a bold step for them because they are releasing a product that’s supposed revolutionize how people use technology. I don’t think that many people have secrets to hide, so I don’t know what everybodies big issue is about.”
Some incidents have been reported by those lucky enough to be in the Glass Explorer Program, though. Sarah Slocum, one such explorer, was physically and verbally assaulted for wearing Glass, which was even stolen from her for a brief moment, in a San Francisco bar. A similar altercation occurred in a French McDonalds to computer engineering professor Steve Mann. Mann was wearing eyewear of his own design called the Eyetap when he was allegedly assaulted by 3 employees.
While Google Glass offers a unique experience for wearers, there is still much controversy over the device, and many social issues surround it. Passersby may not marvel at it as wearers do, so buyer beware.