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Google Glass: assessing the promise and the threats

At this year’s Google I/O, the buzz was all about Google Glass. The device was on everyone’s mind, and even on some of the attendees’ faces.

According to Zdnet.com, the developer’s conference centered on building better apps for Google products. Like Google Glass. Building better apps, says Google, to improve a user’s experience on this device.

If Google creates a lot of user-friendly apps for Glass it is more likely to have mass appeal. Make the device useful enough and it might enjoy the same intense popularity as today’s smartphones.

At present, the particulars of the device are still unknown. But, it is a hot topic for the media and technology bloggers alike. Even amongst these experts, speculation abounds.

What we know

True to its reputation, Google has taken a minimalist approach to marketing Google Glass. The Glass website gives us sneak peeks of the device. However the videos, pictures, and text are too little to quench our insatiable curiosity.

Based on news of Glass, we know that it lacks useful apps.

Under-apped

Developers could just tweak mobile apps into a form usable by Glass. But, this isn’t what Google wants. The plan is to have the developers create apps designed for the unique Glass experience.

Because of this, app or “Glassware” production has been slow.

All that is about to change. There’s new Glassware in the works.

NYTimes.com says to expect apps that deliver news from CNN, fashion updates from Elle, reminders and notes from Evernote, and social networking from Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Popular apps like these could give Google Glass the push it needs to become the next must-have gadget, even among average consumers. What will a world enriched by Google Glass look like?

What we can’t wait to find out

Imagine a scene where you walk down the street. You’re on the phone with your friend. Others around you have their smartphones out to send texts or emails. Look up directions to their destinations. Read online reviews of the best restaurants in town.

Now, replace the phones in this familiar picture with Google Glass devices. How does the picture change? At this point, we can only ask questions about how Glass will impact the individual and society.

Is Google Glass the next big fashion statement?

Fast forward to that sidewalk scene where everyone wears Google Glass. Today, we choose our phones and decorate them with covers that fit our own unique fashion sense.

If Glass becomes widely accepted, we’ll use the device, not only as useful technology, but also as a bold fashion statement.

The current Google Glass style looks like a pair of glasses sans lenses. A tiny rectangle of glass situated somewhere near the user’s right eyebrow is the display. A thick piece of plastic runs the length of the right side of Glass. This strip houses the computer, sound device, and battery.

Now comes the “real” fun – a variety of colors. Choose from black, gray, white, orange, or light blue. Just like smartphone accessories abound, anticipate customizable options to make your Glass even more your own.

Are our pockets deep enough for Glass?

Engadget’s review of Google Glass is mixed, at best. The reviewer feels positive, even hopeful, about some of Glass’ features. He is critical of others, however.

One of the most notable negatives is the price tag.

According to Engadget, the current model costs US$1 500. That’s significantly more expensive than the smartphone, which costs an average of US$372 this year.

Your costs won’t end there, however. The device cannot access data to operate on its own. When Wi-Fi isn’t an option, you’ll have to pair it with your smartphone.

Engadget reveals how many cellphone plans won’t support the synchronization necessary between Glass and your smartphone. If this is the case with your plan, expect an additional $40 to be added to your bill for this service.

Is Google Glass the end of privacy?

Many people think so. One of the most talked-about features of Google Glass is its ability to take photos and record videos easily and discreetly.

Simply say, “OK Glass” and give the appropriate command. Or, with the new app called “Wink,” give an exaggerated wink with your right eye to capture the moment.

Glass photos and videos can be uploaded to Google+ immediately.

Some might say the danger of this is the ease with which unwanted photos and videos can be taken of individuals without their knowledge. According to some, the technology of Glass will make it easier for predators to operate.

The real threat, according to Time, is to relationships and social interaction. There’s already technology out there to take pictures of people without their knowledge or consent. It’s just that Google Glass brings that technology to the forefront.

It puts it on our faces

Even though most Glass users won’t take pictures of people without permission, people might begin to act more cautiously around those who wear Google Glass. Time says, “If there’s one thing we should really worry about, it’s that we’ll treat each other differently, and trust each other less, when Glass is around.”

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