Google’s tyrannical approach to the new “Glass”
Google has finally unveiled its much-discussed Glass device and is offering it to a select public for the hefty price of $1500. The main aim of this device is to slowly dispense with smartphones, tablets and all the other fancy gadgets we’ve had thrust upon us in the past decade. The Glasses are made up of a heads-up display just above the right eye, enabling you to view data up close and personal – and with a horde of other features such as snapping point-of-view photos, voice-directed controls and bone-induction sound technology, Google is set on surfing the new wave of products and leading the charge on to the post-smartphone era. However, we may be glimpsing a 1984-ish contrivance by Google when it comes to owning this product.
Google has decided to follow the Apple route of “bricking” and is trying to ensure that its Glasses are only used by a single person. “Bricking” means deactivating a device when it is used by any person other than the legitimate owner. It was initially meant as a security feature to cut down on thefts and unauthorized use of a product, but it is quickly becoming an irksome problem for the average consumer. Google Glasses are sold with the normal (boring) terms and conditions, one of which forbids the buyer from “reselling, loaning, or transferring the technology without Google’s express permission”. While this may not sound like much to those tech aficionados who would rather part with their liver rather than this technological jewel, this may present be a thorny problem for those who for some reason or another eventually wants to sell their Glass. This comes as no wonder really – the limited availability of this device has seen a couple of eBay bids on these “specs” rocketing up to over $90,000, until such auctions were shut down at Google’s request.
By taking this approach, Google is effectively set on controlling the use of its device in the post-purchase period. This might be seen as an over-intrusive breach of privacy by some, although to be fair these are developer iterations of the Glasses (and the testers are actually dubbed as “Explorers”) and so Google might be justified in restricting their use.
The real can of worms might be opened when apps start being developed – and there’s already a confirmed app in the making, allowing you to find your friends in a crowd of people. That’s only the tip of the iceberg – imagine identifying a person and knowing basic information about her/him just by getting that person into your sights while using the Glasses, or maybe unknowingly taking pictures which might end up accessible to anyone on the web.
I might be slightly on the pessimistic side of things, but I’m certainly no Luddite and I find these glasses to be slightly unnerving. As I already mentioned, I’m an avid fan of “1984” by Orwell, and a simple hack of such devices would give literal point-of-view access into anyone’s life. At the same time, the concept is pretty exhilarating and my geeky side’s attention has been well and truly piqued. At this point in time, we can only wait and see how things turn out.