A few weeks after Google announced the completion of their paradigm-warping technology Google Glass, this picture appeared in the G+ account of Google VP Sebastian Thrun. It was taken while he was playing with his son and wearing his Glass technology — basically, a pair of “smart” glasses that can give you a virtual overlay on the real world, sort of like you’re wearing your Android device in your eyeballs. Glass can take pictures too. And suddenly, when people saw what these pictures would look like, the idea of Glass caught fire. Thrun’s picture was shared by thousands of people, including Google founder Sergey Brin.
This first-person perspective image captures a kid’s smiling face, which isn’t remarkable — until you consider that it could never have been taken by somebody holding a camera at the same time. Before this, the public hadn’t really been sure what it would mean to wear a Glass device, other than getting a lot of ads trickling down the periphery of your vision. With Glass, you can record everything you see. Literally.
As is always the case, developments in technology can be overblown however the social ramifications of this one wouldn’t need much to be pretty far reaching. This was inevitable, the game developer for the latest Deus Ex made the salient point recently that the technology, in particular mobile technology is naturally moving closer to us at all times. The most logical conclusion is that we will ultimately wear it, and as soon as is medically (and ethically) plausible carry it in us. However, this has the potential to be a game changer.
Regardless of the capacity to record everything you do while you’re wearing them, the natural development of these things on media is staggering. This technology, like all technology is going to minituarised so how long realistically before we see our for first Glass drama? I give it two years. The obvious side effect that all characters will be wearing glasses is a problem but that won’t stop someone doing it. What we will have however are a new age of photographs that capture real, honest moments that conventional cameras automatically shatter with their appearance. The immediacy of the technology is the appealing part.
At this stage, it’s a positive thing. The ramifications for privacy will rumble in very quickly but every day life is not sordid enough for that to be that much of a problem. The real worry is that everyone will walk around with perma grins and fixed pouts on their faces in case their captured on camera. Might even inspire me to smarten up a little…
The main problem is that I look awful in glasses… and the possibility of warring couples using recorded footage from their smart glasses to win petty arguments, ultimately ending in brutal and depressing consequences as seen in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror series. But we’ll leave the hand wringing and doomsaying to Brooker. Right now you can capture a moment you’ll always remember at the same time as living it… if you don’t mind wearing glasses you might not need during that moment… an advancement no doubt but one that still has some refinement left to achieve.