Google Glass: The flip-side

By on July 19, 2012
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Is the world ready for augmented reality head-gears?

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So Steve Mann went ahead and got himself into an odd situation. Again. Back in 2002, airport security broke some of his equipment causing over $50,000 of damage. What equipment, you might ask? His wearable computer system. Yes, that’s right. Designed to augment his memory & keeping a check on his life-sustaining signs, while at the same time enhancing his vision, he wears electronic sensors & a computer wherever he goes. And back in 2002, while on the way to Toronto via St. John’s International Airport in Newfoundland, he went through a three-day ordeal where he was searched & stripped of his contraptions by security personnel. By the way, Steve Mann is the pioneer of wearable computing and a professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto. And recently, he was all over the news again. Apparently, the guys at a French McDonalds restaurant didn’t approve Mann sporting his own custom made Glass, Google’s Augmented Reality headset. Yes, the head mounted device that sports an augmented reality display. Talk about zombies, and this is what comes to my mind. Oh well, that’s just me. Anyway, the incident back in 2002 might have been strange or far fetched to many of us, but to think that Google is releasing it’s own augmented reality gear for mainstream consumers in 2014 makes me think that the possibilities are not that far away. But at what cost?

Is the world ready for augmented reality head-gears? You walk around, wearing the thin & transparent eyepiece, ducking and moving around nooks and corners, eying everyone that comes to your focus. And if I was at the other end of it, knowing that it might be some sort of a privacy invading device (it has a camera, who knows if its recording, right?!) I wouldn’t be too happy about it. The point is, the rest of the society has to be ready for such a device, or else you might end up losing it, or worse, hurt your wallet. To think that Mann had paperwork from his doctor explaining the need for such a contraption, and yet having his gadget pulled from his head (which is permanently attached by the way) is a stark reality to the flip-side of this cutting edge technology. Makes you think doesn’t it?

Yes, even though sousveillance is generally accepted, how troublesome might it be when we have a permanent camera hanging from our faces? It’s just not a matter of dropping your phone into your pocket after quickly sending a tweet, or taking a shot. The augmented reality is a persistent thing; and to think that you are trying to do it to the whole world! There will be a level of perceived detachment between the ones using it, and the ones that are not. Each new technology brings with it an adoption life-cycle… who knows how long it will take the laggards to catch up to the early adopters. And it is similar to this case too: it will be interesting to see how the old schemas gets challenged, and maybe forced into acceptance. It’s a brave new world out there folks. It’s time to get into the “zombie-groove.”


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