In April this year, I presented to the agency a brief look at how emerging trends were changing the current digital and mobile landscape. 8 months on and looking back on this, many of these trends have become the norm. In fact, it has become increasingly clear that society has further embraced their love of a mobile interactive culture in a multitude of ways. However, has this progression been a smooth one?
At the forefront of the wearable technology movement, Google Glass is the next step in the development of an unobtrusive interface. Here, information comes to the user when needed, rather than requiring them to physically go and find it. Glass offers the wearer the opportunity to spend more time with life and less time navigating technology. Like the devices dreamed up in science fiction fantasy, this had the potential to be a serious game changer.
Futuristic and technically amazing, Google Glass was seen as a curious oddity of innovation upon its release. Visionary in its ambitions, it raised a multitude of questions to the simple user. Would you wear it in public? Was there really a need for such a thing? How would this device fit into your existing lifestyle? On the one hand it sought to replace the smartphone, but on the other, it still requires one to be fully functional and practical. There is no doubt that if Glass became popular, it would change our understanding of interfaces and challenge social paradigms. However, over the course of its development it has revealed interesting issues that strike home at the hearts of users.
A Recorded Age
With the advent of the Glass Explorer Program, the wearable computer has introduced an entirely new debate about the ethics and etiquette of its use. We live in a recorded age and Glass has the ability to record from your line of sight without people being aware of it. What will happen if large numbers of these glasses begin recording in public? Are we entering an age of public scrutiny and accountability or a surveillance state?
With each new version, Glass brings us closer to accurate facial recognition, unsuspecting public broadcasting and more unsettling uses. What legislation if any, will be passed and how will this affect security, privacy and peace of mind? Already, there are several reported cases of people being banned or evicted from establishments, often because staff is unsure how patrons will react. This will continue to happen until society adapts to a new generation of connectivity.
Currently, Google collects a wide array of information whether you’re on a browser or using one of their services and systems. Location information, personal details you provide, search queries, what you’re clicking are just a few of the examples. It provides advertisers a more targeted means of reaching their customers, and businesses with more information about how users interact. However, if Google Glass is constantly recording your life through your eyes, what will this mean for the future?
Glass is currently exciting because it’s new, shiny and different, yet people are resistant to change and will always find problems in adapting to the new and revolutionary. Despite all this, it really does look like this device is another step in evolving the way we connect with each other. As a result, it remains to be seen if the new opportunities and sheer convenience it offers will outweigh concerns. How unobtrusive will this interface really be?