Google Glass Reflections

google-glassAs someone who has worn glasses all of my adult life – not so I can quickly say “half a pound” in Chinese , but to accomplish necessary tasks, like finding my shoes in the morning – I’m starting to get a little nervous about the impact Google Glass may have on us bespectacled folks. With design improvements and cross-licensing deals with eyeglass frame brands likely, the Glass product may end up being easily confused with my old faux tortoise shell specs. And then what?

There is already enough paranoia around Glass’s ability to record video and pictures on the sly. It is not hard to image being stopped in the not-too-distant future at the door to a confidential meeting by a security guard, yelling, “Hey, you with the glasses, what are you trying to pull?” Or, how about hearing at the start of a symphony concert, ” Please be sure to turn off your cell phones and remove your glasses before the start of the performance?” Sure, it’s listening to the music that counts, but I like to see the conductor recognize the first violinist too. And it may not be long before the adage “Don’t trust anyone over 30!” will be replaced with “Don’t trust anyone with glasses!” It’s enough to make me consider contacts again. For more in this vein — yes, even concerns about Glass in the bathroom — see the recent NY Times Bits column from the Google developers’ I/O conference.

For speculation about a young man’s use of Glass on a first date and the use of Glass in other contexts, you’ll find John Lanchester’s recent Short Cut in the London Review of Books to be both good fun and disconcerting. As Mr. Lanchester points out, the use of Glass needs to be squared with the UK’s 1998 Data Protection Act. Back in California, Google’s home turf, as well as in several other states, recording a private conversation without the consent of all individuals is a crime. Perhaps, there’ll be an on/off light for Glass making it clear when the wearer is recording or may be. Also, would a lit up pair of Glass be deemed to constitute an adequate notice for collection of personal information? California’s AG may have a tough time with that one. We’ll have to wait and see (pun intended). In the meantime, I am going to be especially wary of boys with glasses dating my daughters.