Wearables IV – The Google Glass (non)-Predicament

Steven Brykman | May 15, 2014 | In the News

Let’s face it. Google Glass is having a hard go of it. While it’s true that, frequently, technology conflicts with user-opinion and must fight to gain public acceptance, Google Glass is different. For instance, though nobody I know owns a 3D-TV, nobody I know hates them either.

It’s not that we just don’t like Google Glass or that we simply find its owners to be uber-nerdy. Much like today’s Tea Party, we actually fear the wearable device—in an Orwellian kind of way—and are leery of what it boasts are its main features. Not since the cloning of Dolly the Sheep and the advent of upskirt photography has technology found itself to be so outwardly conflictive with established social norms.

CNN cites the example of Sarah Slocum who entered the ironically named “Molotov’s” bar in San Francisco’s Lower Haight and wound up with much more than a cocktail. She was harassed by several patrons for wearing a Google Glass and told she was “killing the city.” Rather than take her side—and why wouldn’t they since Facebook video equals more publicity—several San Francisco bars (and Seattle cafés) have gone ahead and banned the use of Google Glass altogether, citing privacy invasion as the main concern. Because as it turns out, surprising as this may seem, apparently not many people enjoying having their privacy invaded while they’re out having a good time and posting drunken selfies to Facebook from their iPhones.

Google_glass_image1Another CNN article cites an episode of anti-glass aggression in a Florida Panera Bread when a couple (both wearing Glass) were accosted by a dude who accused them of “being very intrusive and invading his sense of privacy.” Simply by being there.

One CNN San Franciscan describes Glass as “a symbol of the tech elite,” which sounds like an accusation Google might just approve of, but then goes on to call it, “a symbol of people being able to record you without your consent” which sounds like something Google might not be so crazy about.*

Or would they?

Jared Newman at Time claims the only solution is for Google to remove the camera altogether. But as a full-time tech-nerd, the way I see it, the solution is relatively simple. All the bars have to do is setup some Beacons to identify all the Google Glass wearers that enter the establishment. Then they have to work out some agreement with Google whereby the software powering the Beacon will also automatically trigger the recording light to turn on on the Google glass, somehow bypassing any possible jailbroken devices. Voilà. Problem solved.

Let me just take a moment to verify that this would actually…WOAH. Wait a minute. Seriously? There’s no recording light on Google glass? Okay, then. I take it all back.

Step 1: Put a damn recording light on the thing!
Step 2: See step 1.

Come on, Google! The thing that has people freaking out about is not the fact they’re being recorded. As Snoop Dogg once opined, “This types o’ sh*t happens every day.” It’s that they’re being recorded and have no way of knowing it! You and I both understand how easy it would be to add a tiny green/red LED to let people know when they’re being recorded, which is traditionally the way video cameras work anyway. Sure, people will still figure out ways to jailbreak the device or simply cover-up the light, but at least in that case the onus is on them. That said, it’s still going to be nigh on impossible to make their owners look cool. Which may point to a larger problem. For all our talk, we still don’t like to hang out with cyborgs.

So Google, you leave me no choice but to assume you’re eschewing the indicator light on purpose. Which means you do like people being able to record other people without their consent. Which is just plain weird.

Because when it comes right down to it, the only difference between Google Glass and an iPhone is you don’t have to hold up the Glass and point it at the thing you’re shooting. You just have to look at the thing. This alone warrants an indicator light.

A highly unusual zdnet article on the subject proposes that despite the lack of an indicator light on the “explorer” version of Google Glass, “there’s room to make the device even stealthier…Although there’s no recording indicator per se, if you are being recorded, it’s readily apparent from video activity being reflected off the wearer’s eye prism that something is going on.”

Right. Because of course we’re all experts on the inner workings of Google Glass.

So get with it, Google. Do the right thing. Light the sucker up!

With Propelics you’ll never have to worry about an absent indicator light when all sense of logic and decency is screaming out for one. We take into account all users involved—not just the guy behind the camera. Our Designers and UX Architects are the best in the business. And I’m not just saying that because I’m one of them.

Okay, so maybe I am. So what? Is that so wrong?

 

*Not to mention it’s not a symbol of people being able to record you. It’s the actual thing that’s recording you. A symbol would be a drawing of Google Glass. But that’s neither here nor there, which is why I wasn’t going to mention it in the first place.

Steven Brykman

Steven is a Digital Strategist and UX Architect with Propelics, an Anexinet company, focusing on Mobile Products with a diverse background in writing and literature. He spent much of the last decade as Creative Technologist/Lead Strategist of his own design company, helping Fortune 500 companies define the direction of their digital campaigns, websites and mobile applications. Additionally, he co-founded Apperian, a Boston-based mobile technology startup.

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