Gglasshole! The pushback against Google GLASS has begun
You know how people talk about the 24-hour news cycle? Well, now it has accelerated so much that people are making mock videos…of things that haven’t even happened yet. It appears that we now travel “faster than life”, which has caused us to go back in time…perhaps transiting a “Snark Hole” to get there.
In this case, the target is Google GLASS.
That’s an upcoming (for general commercial release…possibly late this year) gadget (I’m guessing they won’t like that I am using that word) from Google.
It’s a pair of glasses with a heads-up display…you can see things provided by software in your vision. You can also use it to record video.
It’s important to note that it’s a two-way street. You can see things that aren’t there, but your Google GLASS can see things that are…and react to them.
Before I get too much into what that might mean (specifically for e-books, since that’s the focus of this blog), let’s settle on terminology.
People are tending to call them “Google Glasses” which makes sense. I used “Gglass” (“GEE-glass’) in the headline here. That would tie it into, say, Gmail. However, if they were really successful and became ubiquitous, it’s quite possible that people will just call them “glasses”, in the same way most people say, “I can’t find my phone” rather than “I can’t find my cellphone”. I think the context will make it clear enough. “Ask your glasses” should work*.
For some folks, they really will be the same thing…Gglasses might be the prescription lenses they need for corrected vision.
What concerns do people have?
I’m seeing two main threads.
One is people being even more distracted than they are now. For example, you are talking to someone, and they are simultaneously watching YouTube videos. That might be okay in some cases, but might not be a good idea when the person was driving, or walking down a crowded sidewalk.
I think that’s going to depend various much on the person, and on how smart the glasses are.
For example, the Gglass could be aware of someone or something rapidly approaching, and return you to a clear view…perhaps with some sort of alert. It’s possible that it could actually reduce pedestrian/vehicle accidents. I remember years ago when a friend of mine had a facial injury. Asking what had happened, the friend had been riding a bike…reading a book…and slammed into the back of a parked truck. An intelligent collision avoidance system would have helped in that case. I don’t read books while I’m driving or when I was riding a bike, but I’ve certainly done it while walking somewhere.
I think a certain percentage of the population could read a book while watching a TV show or carrying on a conversation (see this earlier post). Will some people walk off a cliff or into traffic? Sure, it’s possible…just like they can do now when navigating a bag of french fries.
The other concern I’m seeing is not from the data the Gglasses give you, but the data they gather.
They can identify people, prices, and so on, and that’s one thing. Could you use them, for example, to identify where a stranger lives? I can see ways that could work. First identifying them through facial recognition and scanning Facebook and other sources, then using public records to locate, perhaps, a property tax record.
The other thing is that they can record video…and it may be pretty unobtrusive.
In fact, I can picture a system that records all the time, probably taking the data to the Cloud. Then, the active decision you make is whether to keep something or not, rather than to start recording.
Maybe you only have a day to decide to preserve something before it gets “recorded over” (although I know it wouldn’t exactly work that way). You could verbally mark it afterwards, give it a time to preserve (“from noon to one”), or, depending on how smart it is, tell it to “Save parent-teacher conference”.
It could become like Russian dash cams
where we gets tons of video on YouTube (or Vine). Got robbed? The video is in the Cloud. Want to prove what happened at work, or when that inspector came to your house? Already recorded.
That obviously raises some interesting issues…which David Brin has addressed in
In terms of just reading, I see some applications.
First, I’d like it if it could block everything except what I am reading…of course, being able to change back again quickly. That might be a challenge, but an opaque page might be nice sometimes.
Second, how about simultaneous translation? You are reading a book written in Spanish, but reading it in English. That seems (imperfectly) possible.
Third, you could certainly look at something that has a “tag”, and maybe see video or information about a character about which you are reading. If it was tied into Amazon, for example, you could see the Shelfari Book Extras. This could even work with paperbooks (through text recognition, rather than tagging), conceivably, giving them some of the advantages of e-books. Seamless dictionary lookup in a paperbook? Hm…there might be hope for them yet.
Fourth, what about a Zeebox type app (Zeebooks?) for books, magazines, comics, and more? You could have social interactions with other people, see what they find interesting, and so on? Who wore it best? Instant polls!
Will this be a culture changer, like Tivo or the Walkman? It’s hard to say at this point, but a lot of people are already offering their opinions.
What do you think? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post and/or participating in the poll below:
* I did call them “datacles” (data spectacles) in this earlier post, although I wasn’t limiting them to Google’s product.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.