Let’s not worry about Google Glass being banned

March 25, 2013
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Google Glass Press (3)

There’s a lot of news lately about Google Glass being shunned, and outlawed. Bars are banning it, lawmakers are considering making it illegal to use in a car… it’s madness! If you’re wondering what the point is in picking up a pair when they come out, don’t. This lashing out against Glass is silly. Here’s why.

Glass isn’t here

Google Glass is little more than a working concept at this point. What does it do? Who is designing apps for it? We don’t know. We know it’s secretive, and those who have tested it at the Glass Foundry events are bound by a non-disclosure agreement. We know it looks cool, and will take pictures and video. We know it will help us navigate, and even translate. We know it will be helpful, but nothing more.

Currently, what we see via the Google Glass website is conceptual. All those I’ve spoken to about Glass that have actually tried Glass tell me the UI is still pretty crude. Google Now is probably going to be a focus, but that’s not set in stone. Actually, with Glass, we don’t know that anything is necessarily set in stone. We don’t actually know anything!

Been there, done that

Remember when camera phones were a new concept? Maybe you don’t, but there was a time when a phone with a camera was a radical concept that scared people. How would we regulate it? Everyone will be taking pictures of everything! It sounded like anarchy in the eyes of the press… but now we see how silly that was. If you have a phone without a camera, you’re probably a hipster who bought the phone at a swap-meet so you could be ‘ironic’. The real irony is that camera phones are now considered crucial, as we want to capture all of our memories without toting around an additional piece of hardware.

phone camera

Same difference

Google Glass is not a phone with a camera, but it may travel the same arc of public perception. With a phone, the fervor was that you couldn’t tell a camera phone from a regular one. Who would be taking photos of what, and when? For those reasons, it was frightening to some. Google Glass will face the same challenges, as it’s not clear to us (yet!) when someone will be filming or snapping photos. The functionality isn’t clear because we don’t know anything about Glass yet.

To ban someone from an establishment for wearing Google Glass is tantamount to profiling. Simply having something that can do something doesn’t mean we will be doing it. If I have prescription glasses, and those happen to be Google Glass, am I now banned from an establishment? I need those glasses to see, and drive… so how can I be banned from using them? Is that really a fight you want to have, miscellaneous bar owner?

More merit than danger

Lawmakers are increasingly concerned with our level of responsibility. They think Google Glass will distract us from the task at hand, which is driving safely. This is their excuse for attempting to ban the device whilst driving, yet a much larger Tom-Tom or Garmin screen attached to the windshield is okay. I can turn a GPS device off just as I can Google Glass. I can have a TV mounted inside my car, yet a small screen giving me timely updates about my life is somehow worse?

If the model we’ve seen Sergey Brin wearing is what the final production piece, then that small screen is right about the same spot in my visual periphery as the rear-view mirror on my car. I check that often, and it doesn’t divert my attention from the road. There is little reason to believe that Google Glass would distract a responsible driver, and that onus falls on you.

Google Glass is meritorious, and not given the proper respect in that regard. Hot-button topics like safe driving or being taped without consent dominate the media coverage, but that’s irresponsible. It’s irresponsible because we don’t know anything about Glass yet. If we had a good idea of just what the device would be able to do, or otherwise capable of, we could reasonably concern ourselves with these issues.

We’ve discussed the benefits to Glass previously, even in its crude form. What about personal security? How many crimes go unpunished or unreported due to lack of evidence? Even if it were a simple video-taking device, that video could auto-upload to your Google Drive account. Consider the store clerk, or woman walking alone at night. We are all concerned with security, but if we’re not doing anything wrong… there isn’t much to worry about with Google Glass and being filmed. Much like the recent Play Store policy change to not allow anonymous comments, Google Glass has the potential to keep people honest who otherwise may not be.

Google Glass ban-w600

Change is scary

Google Glass has the potential to change everything. This product has the capacity to completely alter how we utilize mobile technology, and that scares some people. It’s unknown, which naturally causes alarm. We’re unsure about this massive change in direction, but that isn’t reason to decry Google Glass ad hoc. It’s a bit irresponsible to be so dismissive about technology we don’t know anything about yet.

The same outcry occurred with cell phone cameras, then they became a normal part of life. Caution is a fantastic tool when utilized properly, but the fervor over Google Glass is not one of those examples. Fear should not be a driving force behind policy change, be it state law or a restaurant policy.

Google Glass Press (1)

Conclusion

Google Glass is happening, like it or not. Just because the technology is new, and unknown, doesn’t make it dangerous. Some consider it safer, so should we make driving with Google Glass mandatory? No… that’s just silly. So is the flipside, which is banning it altogether.

You can’t banish something that has no proven history of being dangerous or detrimental. Those same people who are damning the technology haven’t even tried it out, so how are they in a position to judge it? We needed massive amounts of proven cases where texting while driving was dangerous… yet an unseen, unproven piece of hardware is being considered harmful. This potential policy change is based on innuendo and conversation, not facts. It’s really hard to have a factual conversation about Google Glass, because we don’t know anything about it.

If you want Google Glass, buy a pair when they become available. Your concern should be about which color frames you want, not being pulled over by the police for wearing them. Google Glass gives us no pause for actual concern, so lets not feed the fire. We’ve seen witch-hunts like this before, and look at how we view those events today. Laughable, abhorrent inanity. Someday, we’ll all search for these old articles about Glass… on Glass. That much we do know.

 

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