FP StaffMay 20, 2013 11:50:14 IST
At the Google I/O conference, Google held four discussions dedicated to Glass, its new smartglasses which come with a recording camera. The biggest concern that was not addressed however, was the question of how Glass would operate within social norms. The point of where it would be wrong to wear Glass was never taken up. The biggest fear that Glass poses for many is that you could end up being recorded without knowing about it.
However according to Charles Mendis, an engineer on the Glass team, was quoted in the Verge as saying "If I'm recording you, I have to stare at you - as a human being. And when someone is staring at you, you have to notice. If you walk into a restroom and someone's just looking at you - I don't know about you but I'm getting the hell out of there." Steve Lee, the product director for Glass added that "Privacy was top of mind as we designed the product."
While Google might be busy defending privacy concerns over Glass, not all of the criticisms against it are without justification.
As Nick Bilton's column on New York Times points out that at the Google Glass conference, there were several developers who even wore Glass to the toilets, something that sounds really disconcerting. Bilton also writes that he even met a developer whose Glass let him take pictures by just winking. Of course this was a hack added onto the device, but it only highlights that Glass isn't exactly the most secure device. Frankly a wink-to-take-pictures feature sounds a little scary.
The US Congress has already posed questions on how Glass treats privacy to Google CEO Larry Page and wants written answers by 14 June.
In particular, the US Congress wants to know how Google would prevent Glass from unintentionally collecting data about users/non-users without their consentand what protective steps the company is taking to protect the privacy of non-users when Google Glass is in use.
These are perfectly valid questions and as the NYT article points out the device isn't free from hacks. Google has of course said it will disable Glass devices if users tamper with them but that definitely won't stop the hacks from taking place .
Google also displayed a 'prescription version' of Google Glass for those with weak eyesight. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr apps for Glass also made an appearance at Google's I/O's conference this year. The apps come with the ability to allow users to share photos instantly from Glass itself.
Google Glass is without a doubt one of the most important and futuristic products to be launched in recent times. Conversely it also poses privacy dilemmas especially to those who don't want to use the device.
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