DON'T BE A 'GLASSHOLE'
19th February, 2014
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Google's glass experiment is currently underway with the 'explorer program', a testing phase of glass in which a careful selection of 10,000 developers have been given first dibs to help bring a better finished product to the market by the end of this year. However, Glass hasn't had the best reception, with a few recent controversial incidents. The search giant has today posted a blog update on the best etiquette to use when wearing glass.
By Zafar Jamati
Google Glass looks not too dissimilar to a pair of regular eye glasses and yet it has an impressive list of features. With the ability to record video, take pictures, interact with social media, display heads up navigation, Google things and browse the web, it hopes to cement its place in the future of social interaction.
However, the journey to date hasn't been easy, having already raised security, privacy and safety concerns. It's been banned in many public buildings, cinemas and restaurants, as well as landing a woman in the US with a ticket for using Glass whilst driving.
It seems to be like Marmite, people either love it or hate it. Those who buy into the vision see it as a utopian paradise of liberalism, enhancing one's productivity and connectivity.
On the flip side we have some very understandable concerns by people worried about privacy. Enjoying a nice quiet meal with friends may turn sour if the person sitting across from you starts taking pictures of their food - although, to be frank, I do this even now! On a more serious note, driving with Glass could cause a serious risk to pedestrians and other road users, which is why incorporating an environmentally-aware hardware limitation, seems like a good idea.
In response to this rising controversy, Google has posted a list of Do's and Don'ts on the most appropriate use of Glass. The interesting thing is that the list provides a good insight into the problems we will face as the nature of social communication morphs from mobile to wearable devices. Here's what we think about the 'rules':
DO explore the world around you - the whole point is to take advantage of the hands free nature of the specs. Let's say you're exploring a new city, no need to struggle with carrying a cumbersome camera and phone, now glass can augment your reality, providing directions and taking pictures.
DO use voice commands - whilst this frees up your hands. I can definitely envisage the hilarious consequences of people on public transport secretly whispering sweet nothings into thin air.
DO ask for permission - This is quite obvious, you wouldn't go up to someone and take pictures with your DSLR, so why do it whilst staring at them? What about gatherings with minors and vulnerable people? This appears to be something of a grey area. Whilst no one has been sued yet, the implications for regulatory control could mean the law has to play catch-up in this area.
DO use screen lock - This prevents people from stealing your specs with all your pictures and personal data. A remote wipe app gives users the ability to lock and remotely erase device data.
DON'T glass out - Because the heads up display prism is in the top right corner of the eyepiece, users engrossed in online content look, to the average on-looker, as though they have been zombified. The advice is to only use glass for short periods at a time and take it off to maintain some level of human interaction.
DON'T play sports - Another common sense one, you don't want to ruin those $1,500 (non retail pricing) pair of specs by falling flat on your face in a game of basketball or on the ski slope. Despite this, most of Glass' promotional material contains videos of extreme sports usage.
DON'T wear it and expect to be ignored - Let's be frank, you're going to get questioned by every Tom, Dick and Harry on the street. People are curious about such a novel thing, and by wearing it you are inviting people's curiosity and being prepared to answer the same questions ten times a day is expected.
DON'T be a Glasshole - and so we come to the ultimate etiquette of using Google Glass, don't be that creepy and rude person who insists on being difficult. If you go into a building where phones aren't allowed, the same rules apply to Glass. If you go into a cinema you could be seen to be pirating the movie, so to be on the safe side, switch it off and keep a spare pair of prescription specs handy.
If the current controversy is anything to go by, it's scary to think of the storm that will be raised when Glass does finally reach market and into the hands of millions of everyday consumers.
Social media is definitely changing; the future considerations for businesses will be to optimise apps for voice rather than touch, for heads up displays rather than fixed physical screens, for augmented reality rather than blocks of text.
The use implications are also far wider-reaching than just the consumer industry. Engineers could use them for factory planning, diagnostic analysis and hands free maintenance. Airline pilots can use them for heads up navigation and alarm notifications. Numerous police forces in the US have already started to trial Glass in law enforcement for accountability purposes.
It seems that, when released, Glass will become the crowning glory of the wearable device sector. Seamlessly integrating with smart watches, fitness bands and even a smart wig!
So what do you think? Are you a lover or hater of Glass? Will you be buying one? Let us know in the comments section below.