It began as a seemingly crazy rumour, then became a real-life product that is now in the hands (and on the heads) of eager early adopters. Instead of simply releasing its sci-fi inspired specs to the world, Google decided to invite (and later allow) a small group to beta test Glass — but even though the glasses still aren’t freely available globally, this tiny collection of ‘Explorers’ seems to have the Glass team doing damage control.
Google recently released a set of guidelines for Glass users, where it warned them not to be “Glassholes” or lurk in corners recording people. Now it’s tried to dispel some myths associated with the device, putting together a list of common concerns and perceptions and attempting to change the view that Glass users are creepy, rich, distracted geeks trying to bring an end to privacy as we know it.
In (what else?) a Google+ post, the Glass team tackles a lot of the criticisms of their device head on, explaining how they aim to stop the trend of “looking down” at a phone or tablet rather than simply experiencing the moment. They say that a tiny screen (which is off by default) is arguably less distracting than glancing at your phone, and that Glass users can’t possibly spend all their time recording you — the videos are set to last ten seconds, and always-on recording would kill the battery in 45 minutes anyway.
Google also tries to distance its futuristic specs from the idea that its users are all hardcore technology geeks, saying:
Our Explorers come from all walks of life. They include parents, firefighters, zookeepers, brewmasters, film students, reporters, and doctors. The one thing they have in common is that they see the potential for people to use technology in a way that helps them engage more with the world around them, rather than distract them from it. In fact, many Explorers say because of Glass they use technology less, because they’re using it much more efficiently.
Here are some of the other highlights:
Facial recognition and “other dodgy things”: “As we’ve said before, regardless of technological feasibility, we made the decision based on feedback not to release or even distribute facial recognition Glassware unless we could properly address the many issues raised by that kind of feature.”
The crazy price: “The current prototype costs $1500 and we realize that is out of the range of many people. In some cases, their work has paid for it. Others have raised money on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. And for some, it’s been a gift.”
The death of privacy: “In ten years there will be even more cameras, with or without Glass.”
While the way Google has allowed people to beta test the product before wide scale release is ambitious and innovative, it’s also having to deal with some PR headaches and the creation of less-than-flattering slang (who would want to be called a “Glasshole”?). However, the team stresses that it’s still a work in progress — they’ve released software and hardware updates based on Explorer feedback, and are trying to educate both users and the general public and establish some guidelines on how to use a product that hasn’t existed before.
Still, we’ll have to wait and see how this affects Glass when the units finally hit shelves globally, which is still sometime in the undetermined future.