According to a recent article on the Mashable website 72% of Americans have privacy concerns over Google Glass.
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The main objections to Google Glass are not its massive price tag – $1,500 before tax – or the bad press that some of its users have been getting, it’s privacy concerns.
According to a report released by Toluna – a market research organisation – 72% of Americans don’t want to wear Google Glass due to privacy concerns. Potential users are concerned about security breaches revealing personal data and geo-location data. There was also a perception that the glasses would interfere or distract the wearer from concentration leading to potential safety issues including susceptibility to crime.
In May 2013 eight members of the U.S. Congress wrote to Larry Page – CEO of Google – asking that the privacy concerns relating to Google Glass including data collection, processing and storage be addressed.
So to ever have a chance of reaching critical mass, Google Glass must overcome the challenge of the perception of safety and privacy issues associated with the product. Can the glasses ever overcome these issues?
The case for Google Glass
There is no doubt of the demand for the product. Several brands, agencies and publishers find wearable tech and other devices very useful in marketing products. The more devices through which consumers can be targeted with ads the better for marketing strategies. Google Glass opens up more advertising opportunities. This article in Adweek gives further information.
Further, the altruistic applications of Google Glass to academia, healthcare and sports are well publicised. Initially the device went to consumers who had registered for Google’s “Explorer” programme, and has now gone on general sale in the United States. There is also growing excitement about the gaming potential of Google Glass. Infact there is probably a full blown technological race to develop the best potential hardware. Apparently Microsoft is building 4G-enabled glasses for Xbox and Kinect games and Sony has filed patents for its own hardware known as Project Morpheus.
So what exactly is it?
Google Glass is a programmable wearable device. It has an optical head mounted display (OHMD). OHMD is a transparent wearable display that also reflects projected images. It is a standalone multifunctional piece of hardware. The integrated voice recognition and command features means it is fully automated – hands free.
It is capable of multiple applications including augmented vision supporting disabilities and medical vision for surgery. It also has obvious professional and recreational applications.
Google Glass is internet enabled and incorporates audio, video and camera applications all triggered by voice command. The device is fitted with 4GB memory with the ability to share content on social media networks. It also integrates all the Google features including Gmail, Google+ and Google Maps which obviously has significant knowledge and convenience applications for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists alike. It is likely that Google Glass operating system will eventually become as open as Android.
The idea behind the glasses is the so called concept of “ubiquitous computing”. This concept is not new. Google Glass is another step in the evolution of ubiquitous computing. The idea is that computers become part of our everyday lives. That computers are everywhere and anywhere. Other similar terms include the “internet of things” and “pervasive computing”.
As discussed, whilst some greet the arrival of the glasses with great excitement, others are concerned about the privacy and safety concerns that it raises.
The concept of ubiquitous computing has been working its way into the general consumer consciousness already for more than a decade. Nevertheless, before now, it has been the preserve of esoteric interest. When an organisation as influential as Google puts its full weight and resources behind a product like Google Glass, it could precipitate the shift that would have happened eventually anyway, from the long term to the short or medium term. In my view, this product may not just have a future, it could be the future.
Learn more about Google Glass here.