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Field testing
May 21, 2014 8:45 AM   Subscribe


 
Google Gouge at that ludicrous price.
posted by planetesimal at 8:51 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


Three of them are basically "you look like a geek and people shun you".
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:52 AM on May 21 [14 favorites]


A friend of mine got a Google Glass and I tried it out this weekend. I agree with most of this. The navigation is practically broken. There's a swipy-thing on the side that you need to swipe to navigate around that works maybe two times out of five. There's no way to focus the depth-of-field of the display so if your vision isn't 20/20 and you don't wear contacts or tiny, tiny glasses, you get to look at a blurry screen that squinting doesn't fix. And everything is laggy.

Google Glass and related tech will probably be awesome in the near future.

Oh and I posted a photo of myself wearing Google Glass to Facebook and my tech-savvy friends made fun of me, which doesn't bode well for what is already a really dorky-looking product. Like if they sold fake glasses with plain glass lenses that the Google Glass attached to, that would be less stupid-looking than a metal headband with noseclips holding a magic crystal slightly above your eye.
posted by griphus at 8:56 AM on May 21 [7 favorites]


Good. One down, some indeterminate number to go.

They'll eventually fix all the technical issues. The moral issue is intrinsic to the technology and can never be solved. Except by snatching the things off people's faces and stomping on them faster than Google can make them.
posted by Naberius at 8:58 AM on May 21 [15 favorites]


If your HUD glasses are going to look dorky, you may as well go all the way and make them look like some kind of cyberpunk wet dream goggles.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:58 AM on May 21 [22 favorites]


I'd be more inclined to think that appearances matter for this kind of tech if it were not for all the bluetooth enabled crazy people walking around appearing to be talking to themselves.
posted by srboisvert at 9:01 AM on May 21 [18 favorites]


One of the arguments in point 5 is trenchant. Walking around with a Google Glass on immediately brands you as a creep. Doesn't matter if you're not a creep, you just got stereotyped. And enough people do not want Google Glass wearers around them that restaurants and cafes will refuse you.
posted by ardgedee at 9:02 AM on May 21 [16 favorites]


#9 Explorer Envy is great:

On the plus side: Google Glass Explorers climb mountains, cycle extreme trails and lead virtual tours of the Large Hadron Collider -- all with Glass video running.

On the other hand: You don't do those things.


In other words, if I was climbing mountains in my spare time, I wouldn't feel like a tool wearing Google Glasses (see most of his other points)

This couldn't speak to me more.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:05 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


Back when Google announced their first contest, that people could submit their ideas for Glass applications for the privilege to spring for both the $1500 price tag AND a trip to go pick it up, I came up with a few ideas but I was damned if I was going to pay Google to take them! Later on I reviewed them, and all but one would probably be done better by incorporating it into the automobiles themselves (i.e. Head-Up Display on the windshield). And, you won't get saddled with a (what's the "wearable" equivalent of "luggable"?) bit of tech that creeps out everyone else once you get out of the car.

So here they are; it doesn't look like Glass will ever be in a position to implement them and I'll never do anything with them myself:

- Navigation using a combination of GPS and visual landmarks to help provide more accurate directions (ex. avoid telling the driver to turn where no turn is available, or cause them to end up in a pond).

- Heads-Up Display of MPH and other info, so driver doesn't have to shift eyes from the road.

- Visual/audible "maintain safe distance" indicator when driver is tailgating too close.

- Monitor head tilt and eyelid droop to wake up driver if they are nodding off.

- Infrared capability to enhance outlines of road objects/hazards in low light/low visibility conditions.

- Indicator of other potential/proximity road hazards (blind spots, bicyclists, other cars approaching rapidly from behind, detect black ice (?) etc.)
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:05 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


On reflection, I was probably never a good candidate for an early Glass adopter. I'm still more comfortable typing than texting. I am not an app developer.

This reminds me of when I applied for a marketing job, and failed my third interview pretty dramatically when it became apparent that I had no idea what the latest hot apps were, or who was a prominent social media influencer. And my thought process was basically... I get why you want people who know about this stuff to work on your marketing team. But if you EXCLUSIVELY staff your marketing team with technophiles, you'll never have a perspective on how your campaigns come across to a person who DOESN'T read Gizmodo every day, aka "most people."
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:06 AM on May 21 [46 favorites]


Walking around with a Google Glass on immediately brands you as a creep.

Honestly? I felt creepy wearing them. I turned on the video function just to test it out and basically stared at things and then some commotion happened near me, I instinctively went to look and it was just some woman picking up a kid. Then I realized I am filming these people and they have no idea and quickly switched off the video function.
posted by griphus at 9:06 AM on May 21 [26 favorites]


Eh, fuck the judgy people. Even as a white guy people are constantly judging me. Many years ago, I decided to say fuck you to all of them, and that policy is still in effect. If I want to wear Google Glass I will.

I don't, because it's about as useful as Samsung's latest smart watch at this point, but someday they'll be able to cram a decent processor in there and give me the AR experience I have been waiting the last 20 years for.
posted by wierdo at 9:08 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


11. Promised de-emasculation ineffective

On the plus side: Looks a little tough. Head band is totally metal. Might provide some protection to wearer's skull, should I walk into a wall whilst using it.

On the other hand: Still didn't feel the testosterone rush come on like I was promised.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:11 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


I've only seen photos, but both creepy and no re-masculinization sound about right.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:17 AM on May 21


I had a job interview a few months ago with a guy wearing google glass the whole time. I never thought to ask him if I was being recorded, but now that it seems to have been in the realm of possibility, I am seriously squicked out in hindsight. Glad they didn't want me.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:20 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


Can't wait until Apple introduces iGlasses.
posted by valkane at 9:21 AM on May 21 [8 favorites]


And enough people do not want Google Glass wearers around them that restaurants and cafes will refuse you.

I wonder if these restaurants have their own in house video surveillance and if the cognitive dissonance of their position ever rises to their awareness?
posted by mikelieman at 9:22 AM on May 21 [13 favorites]


Three of them are basically "you look like a geek and people shun you".

It was enough to kill the Segway.

I wouldn't underestimate the power of the eye contact issue. Body language is very powerful and almost entirely unconscious part of how we assess others, and eye contact is a huge part of that. Inasmuch as the technology requires breaking eye contact, it's not an issue you can fix with a cooler-looking headband. People are always going to be creeped out if they're trying to talk to you and all of a sudden your eyes go dead and you start staring blankly at something they can't see.
posted by Diablevert at 9:24 AM on May 21 [21 favorites]


I have enough trouble with fucking texters walking into me on the street. I can only imagine how bad it'll get when these hit the mainstream.
posted by jonmc at 9:28 AM on May 21 [6 favorites]


Unlike other wearables, like watches, I don't think visors will be a consumer product for a long time, if ever. There are a large number of narrow task-specific situations here they may be absolutely invaluable though. Even just telepresence in meetings would be awesome compared to the junky webcams we use for skype now. Google needs to find a big enough commercial or industrial client to trial this with, so the problems of limited function and social interactions can be figured out.

The problem is that the combined market of power-line workers, BASE jumpers and tele-health nurse practitioners isn't really that big.
posted by bonehead at 9:29 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


I wonder if these restaurants have their own in house video surveillance and if the cognitive dissonance of their position ever rises to their awareness?

I'm not sure why that's at all cognitively dissonant. I have plenty of neighbors that have THIS HOUSE IS UNDER 24/7 SURVEILLANCE signs in their front yard and I can guarantee you that I can't put my own cameras there just because they did it.

Same goes for stores: I've worked in shops that have security cameras and very strict "no taking pictures in the store" rules for customers, whether it's a camera or a cell phone or Google Glass, now. The carpet ban of Google Glass is because unlike a camera or a phone, it's capable of being always-on and always recording. If you came into the same place waving a phone around clearly recording stuff, there's a good chance they'd tell you to put it away too.

Also being recorded by a security camera is a lot less creepy than being recorded by some guy staring at you.
posted by griphus at 9:31 AM on May 21 [12 favorites]


I was at a urinal when the guy wearing a pair of these was standing next to me. I didn't catch him peeking, and honestly, I don't much care if a dikpic gets out there (I'm not shy or modest). This said, I felt weirded out that he'd wear them into a bathroom.

I'd like to believe the above, but in reality had I caught him peeking I'd probably have crushed his glasses while he was wearing them.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:31 AM on May 21


mikelieman - rational or not I think your point misses the fact that different methods of surveillance recording are socially constructed differently. A security camera in the restaurant is mentally filed under "goes to some closet in the back nobody bothers to check unless there's an incident or the restaurant suspects an employee is skimming off money" while a person wearing a camera goes under "why is that guy spying on me?"
posted by Wretch729 at 9:32 AM on May 21 [15 favorites]


restaurants and cafes will refuse you.

ha, ardgedee, before I looked at your picture I thought, "that reminds of of Cocoa Cinnamon, they have a sign up about 'No Google Glass.'" Yep, exactly.
posted by aka burlap at 9:34 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


A friend of mine got a pair to play with, we've passed it around while sitting in our local watering hole and brainstorming about applications.

I suck at names and faces and I meet a lot of people online first, so I am willing to forgive any amount of geekiness on faces if I can possibly have a "look at a face, show me this person's name and aliases on the various social medias", but because everybody's wigged out about that particular application, that's not going to happen soon.

I did just install Word Lens real-time translation of signs on my cell phone, and...

All of the problems the guy describes with Glass are there, but in particular, the virtual display is too small, up to the right (so it's obvious that you've gone into the thousand yard stare), and too virtually close: There's no way I'd use this thing for navication vs a cell phone in a dash mount, because the time to re-focus from a foot away to the road is way tougher than the time to focus from 2-3 feet away to the road.

But give me that display a little bit closer to useful distance and slightly lower in my field of vision, with WordLens like AR capabilities. and the aforementioned facial recognition? I will definitely use violence to defend my newly acquired cyborg powers.

Basically, Glass feels a lot like the Newton: A harbinger of things to come, not yet a product.
posted by straw at 9:34 AM on May 21 [10 favorites]


Sad to say, but eventually Google or some other company will fix the more egregious technical problems, the products will become cheap, invisible and easy to buy and the "no wireless, less space than a nomad" types will be forced to move on to some equally annoying-but-inevitable shiny newness. Society has become accustomed to the assholes who use technology inappropriately, they'll get used to a new generation of assholelery who walk around with smart glasses.
posted by Poldo at 9:40 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


The juxtaposition between this comment:

The moral issue is intrinsic to the technology and can never be solved.

and this one:

Basically, Glass feels a lot like the Newton: A harbinger of things to come, not yet a product.

is pretty interesting, if for no other reason that it's not hard to imagine that, when Apple announces something like this there will be people falling all over themselves to gush about how awesome it is. Let's face it: in these times, it's not the product, it's how it gets sold.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:42 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


Three of them are basically "you look like a geek and people shun you".

Ha, some of us have that for free.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:45 AM on May 21 [25 favorites]


I'll bring mine to the Austin meetup if anyone there wants to try them out. There are plenty of valid criticisms of this emerging technology, but I see the privacy concerns as being really overblown. The mundane and not-at-all interesting actions of the people around me mostly are not worth the RAM and battery it would cost to record them. Also, the prism lights up when its recording, so it does have a kind of tally light.
posted by The Vice Admiral of the Narrow Seas at 9:46 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


is pretty interesting, if for no other reason that it's not hard to imagine that, when Apple announces something like this there will be people falling all over themselves to gush about how awesome it is. Let's face it: in these times, it's not the product, it's how it gets sold.

Right, there was no difference between the Newton, the bazillion crappy Windows tablets, and the iPad. It was all marketing.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:47 AM on May 21 [6 favorites]


I think the only way these things will ever gain acceptance is if they take the camera off. Otherwise, people wearing them will always be distrusted by everyone around them, all of the time. Not to mention that you risk immediately starting a fight or being arrested if you forget and wander into a bathroom / locker room / etc.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:48 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


If I want to wear Google Glass I will.

I don't, because


It's not about self-discrimination. It's about easing these technologies into a society who has invested heavily, albeit in the past, into the status quo. People were ridiculed for using cellphones until they were ridiculed for using a pay phone. While augmented reality does makes sense in the long term, Google's approach to limiting access to developers probably hampered early adoption and acceptance more than they bargained for. They don't do design very well and these types of products really need to have a strong story addressing the UX from the non-wearer's perspective instead of the wearer.
posted by jsavimbi at 9:50 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


if they're versed in popular psychology, they read things into your lack of eye contact.

Or even if they're not versed in popular psychology.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:50 AM on May 21 [7 favorites]


The thought I keep having about Google Glass is that there would be way more people angry about it if it cost less money.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:52 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


In the future, we are all the protagonist of Smack My Bitch Up [NSFW].
posted by BeerFilter at 9:53 AM on May 21 [6 favorites]


Right, there was no difference between the Newton, the bazillion crappy Windows tablets, and the iPad. It was all marketing.

Did you not bother to read the comment I quoted that provided context, the one referring to moral concerns about privacy and social boundaries? Because it seems like you did.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:54 AM on May 21


Literally charged and updated mine today after a several month hiatus on other projects.

No function involving the camera will ever make me not feel creepy. The navigation is backward and actually less well thought-out than I recall from my initial tests (it's supposed to wake up on a certain kind of head-jiggle, but I can't for the life of me intuit it, and the voice control doesn't work until it's awake, unlike my otherwise terrible Samsung smartphone).

Oh, and it's unreadable in sunlight.

So, other than a strange second-screen experience (not terrible for chat/hangouts so I don't have to switch to the various terrible implementations of that in gmail or dedicated apps), it doesn't have much utility at this time.

...also, I didn't even realize there was a return policy.
posted by abulafa at 9:55 AM on May 21


The mundane and not-at-all interesting actions of the people around me mostly are not worth the RAM and battery it would cost to record them.

The /r/creepshots fiasco alone, never mind the general culture around it, is enough to indicate that "taking pictures of women without their consent and posting them to the internet" is a pretty valid concern.

Also, the prism lights up when its recording, so it does have a kind of tally light.

That's practically a challenge to enterprising firmware/OS hackers.
posted by griphus at 9:55 AM on May 21 [12 favorites]


Let's face it: in these times, it's not the product, it's how it gets sold.

It sounds like a great soundbite, but it's probably not a useful truism. One can look at the final graph here, as an example of a company that spends more on marketing than five other major, "Fortune 500"-scale companies combined, and yet it does not move that many more widgets than its main competitor. Another, less savory example, perhaps, would be Olestra, which food companies had tried like hell to market and yet never had success with, due to the leaky side effects of its consumption. There are many other examples, but most of the time, it's the product, not how it gets sold.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:55 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


When you put the exact same technology in a motorcycle helmet it makes a lot of sense and looks a lot less dorky. For most people, heads-up displays might need to be situational rather than all-the-time wearable.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:55 AM on May 21 [8 favorites]


And now that I think about it, the reflexive jump to Apple's defense was actually a pretty decent illustration of my point.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:56 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


This is a good reminder - the community center where I volunteer needs to establish a "no Google Glass [or similar device]" policy pretty soon, before these things get more common. We also need to front and center our "no recording without permission" policy - in theory, that covers many of the drawbacks of Google Glass, but we have a lot of vulnerable people around and we don't want to create the feeling that someone could be recording them or being stalky in some other way by letting people wear these things.
posted by Frowner at 9:57 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


Interesting how he equates the lack of eye contact being disconcerting because of some sort of deep-seated way that humans interact, instead of realizing that it is just fucking rude to have someone clearly doing something else when you are talking to them. (Though I agree that it is also deeply disconcerting).
posted by roquetuen at 9:57 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


It sounds like a great soundbite, but it's probably not a useful truism[...]There are many other examples, but most of the time, it's the product, not how it gets sold.

Perhaps a corollary, then: If it's not how it gets sold, it's who's selling it.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:58 AM on May 21


The mundane and not-at-all interesting actions of the people around me mostly are not worth the RAM and battery it would cost to record them.

I mean, ok, but you can go ahead and assume it's not you specifically we're worried about. It's the people who actually ARE creepy motherfuckers and DO want to clandestinely record people.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:59 AM on May 21 [11 favorites]


Perhaps a corollary, then: If it's not how it gets sold, it's who's selling it.

To stick to a non-tech product, so as to satisfy conversational requirements, I don't think people really care or even think about who is behind a product like Olestra.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:04 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


And now that I think about it, the reflexive jump to Apple's defense was actually a pretty decent illustration of my point.

rabble rabble rabble APPLE rabble rabble
posted by entropicamericana at 10:06 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure I get the wearable trend at all really. Google glass seems limitedly useful sure, but why does anyone get any use out of a smart watch? I really miss the add value there as well. Is it just the 'cool' factor? How is talking into your wrist a desirable state of things? Even if you get a text on your phone and read it on your watch you'll still have to pull out your phone to respond.
posted by Carillon at 10:06 AM on May 21


Google needs to find a big enough commercial or industrial client to trial this with, so the problems of limited function and social interactions can be figured out.

I don't understand why they didn't do this in the first place, instead of pushing it as something everyone needs to wear all the time - which it clearly is not fit for, and may never be.

I also don't understand why everyone thinks something like Google Glass is inevitable. There are plenty of failed inventions throughout history. Mobile phones clearly fit a need. Google Glass may be useful in some circumstances but probably don't fit as an everyday/everywhere thing.
posted by maggiemaggie at 10:09 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


Ok, couple thoughts after reading the article.

Why do you even need the display? it is really low resolution, and readability and how well your eyes can adjust their field of focus is going to cause a lot of eye strain, even in a healthy young adult with 20/20 vision.
This also makes them bulky and pretty obtrusive, not to mention blocking out a part of your field of vision. That can also be a major hindrance for using them while driving or riding a bike, especially in congested areas.

The ideal model, at least to me, would not have a display at all. It would basically be Spider Jerusalem's shades from Transmetropolitan. Voice control, ability to take still and video images, wireless connection to data services. No need for any display, because that limits your field of view and makes it more likely that someone will write apps for it that are full of blinding and obtrusive ads that require you to reach up and touch the control surface to navigate away from or click through, which will cause even more problems and distractions, not make life easier or enable interesting and new things or whatever it is they are trying to do. Frankly, it seems like they are trying to create a cross between what Batman did in Dork Knight Rises, with the use of everyone's cell phones to create an echo-spatial map so he could see/hear everything in the city, and creating "Vultures" like from Neal Stephenson's Snowcrash. At least in Snowcrash, the "Vultures" were laden down with all kinds of antennas and battery packs and an actual visor so you could easily identify them, but it was a full on culture of people who became walking surveillance drones, totally immersed in being a node of always on video and audio recording of everything going on around them. This is not a good idea, frankly.

And on preview, with everyone talking about "smart watches". I am reminded of Douglas Adams, and the lines in HHGTTG about how everyone was enamored with Digital Watches...
posted by daq at 10:10 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


Also being recorded by a security camera is a lot less creepy than being recorded by some guy staring at you.

I think that's a really interesting perspective, and I question that it survives serious critical introspection. Which I don't say to invalidate our emotional responses to being recorded or photographed, since a lot of our emotional responses aren't logical and don't have to be. But consider:

You're squigged out by a person with a recording device as opposed to the eye-in-the-sky gadget, but the person you often have a lot more control about deciding not to interact with. It's a very obvious recording (in the case of the GG gadget) where surveillance cams may not be, and are often above eye level where you're less likely to notice them.

That wall-mounted cam is hard-wired into shit and far more likely to be viewed by multiple people, stored indefinitely, broadcast various places, blah blah blah. It can be jacked into higher-powered gear and churned through with facial recognition stuff and be part of a, say, stadium-wide recording system that tries to follow you around places.

It's the people who actually ARE creepy motherfuckers and DO want to clandestinely record people.

And that's the one thing that I do find a little weird about the Glass reaction; there's really nothing very clandestine about it at all, particularly in a world with body cams that clip onto shirts and crap hidden in ballcaps. See someone with a Glass and you know in an instant they could be recording. It's unusual. Someone who looks like they might be texting, or wearing a hat or carrying a briefcase or or or or.... that's where someone MIGHT be recording.

I can tell someone wearing Glass to piss off and refuse to converse with them, turn my back to them, etc. It's somewhat or a lot easier to give them a bad angle on me than it is to do the same to security cameras, and seccams appear sometimes in places with signs saying we might use anything we record for our own promotional purposes - something that, to my recall, has been legally upheld. I doubt a Glasshole with a similarly-worded t-shirt would get much legal traction.

I'm inclined to think that Glass just reminds us of what's become the modern reality all the other times when we don't see someone wearing a Glass gadget, and it pisses a lot of us off.
posted by phearlez at 10:12 AM on May 21 [15 favorites]


In a world where it seems like almost every damned thing has an internet-connected screen -- I'm sitting here working and I'm within ten feet of approximately a dozen devices that I could check my e-mail on -- why do I need yet another screen attached directly to my face?
posted by chasing at 10:15 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


You're squigged out by a person with a recording device as opposed to the eye-in-the-sky gadget, but the person you often have a lot more control about deciding not to interact with.

The thing is that I can pick whether or not I enter a building with surveillance. Very, very few people are shy about letting you know there's surveillance going on and plenty will even lie and tell you that there is, even though there isn't. I can pick and choose whether I enter buildings with surveillance inside and, moreover, I can assume that most such locations are going to have it.

The Google Glass guy, on the other hand, is mobile. The Google Glass guy can record me across the street without my noticing. The Google Glass guy can record me in an NYC subway car that has no cameras in it otherwise and I can't actually escape that scenario until the train stops or someone gets into with the guy. The Google Glass guy can follow me around, surreptitiously, whereas Bloomingdales has security footage of me doing whatever inside their store and once I walk out, I'm out of their surveillance area.

Now all this applies to cameras, sure, but not in the same way. I can tell if some asshole in a restaurant I like where I'm not being recorded otherwise is recording me on his phone. With Google Glass? Not a fucking clue. And my "control" over the situation is either leaving or asking him to leave.

So, yeah, for me, at least, my tolerance of corporate/government surveillance (the presence of which can basically be assumed in most places and behavior tailored accordingly) and my intolerance of an individual person being able to personally and secretly record the behavior of others very well survives critical introspection.
posted by griphus at 10:21 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


> Also, the prism lights up when its recording, so it does have a kind of tally light.
> That's practically a challenge to enterprising firmware/OS hackers.

Challenge accepted.
posted by ardgedee at 10:24 AM on May 21


It is very important that you be able to see an attractive person and immediately run a search on their face, in order to correctly identify their name and likes/dislikes so as to better approach them for casual sex in public. Moreover, it is absolutely crucial that you are able to then upload a video of the entire event, correctly tagged with their name and collated with as many unflattering images of them as can be found on Google Image Search, so as to punish them for daring to reject you.

If you don't see this, it's because you're not a Google Developer. You also, therefore, are irrelevant to the Grand New Design.
posted by aramaic at 10:24 AM on May 21 [13 favorites]


> You're squigged out by a person with a recording device as opposed to the eye-in-the-sky gadget

Why should I be accommodating of a bad thing just because it is being democratized?
posted by ardgedee at 10:25 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


> In a world where it seems like almost every damned thing has an internet-connected screen ... why do I need yet another screen attached directly to my face?

It's like someone invented pants with a built-in chair, so you would always be able to sit down. (I'm imagining one of those overly ingenious patent diagrams from the 1880s.) But they make for uncomfortable pants, and instead people have just put chairs in most of the places you might need them, plus there are portable versions you can easily carry for when you go camping.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:25 AM on May 21 [15 favorites]


Honestly, for me I'm far less worried about clandestine recording than the normalization of recording. If some creep comes in to the place I volunteer and he wants to record people clandestinely, that's really bad news - and we would have to totally redo our security practices if that happened. But what I worry about is the glassification of everything so that when we say "don't record, this is private", people are just like "what the fuck, I'll record if I want to" and are constantly trying to break the rules. The constant presence of cameras and the virtually constant potential for recording things has changed matters, mostly not for the better. I'm worried about how conversations and public behavior will be when it's totally the norm for everyone to have an instant, unobstrusive (unlike filming with a phone) surveillance device on their persons. I'm worried about the stress this will cause vulnerable people, for one thing, and the way it will shut down a lot of interactions.

I'm worried about the incentive for ratting people out - we already live in a culture where "someone did something you didn't like, why don't you contact their boss and colleagues and try to get it to go viral" seems totally normal. I'm not saying that this practice isn't used to get at real assholes, but it's extremely double-edged - people who are queer or trans or just politically radical, or who have any kind of unpopular opinion, sexual practice, religion, etc are going to be a lot more vulnerable the more amateur surveillance exists. It puts tremendous power in the hands of redditor-bro people. I could easily see someone thinking it would be fucking hiLARious to come in to our space, film or record someone whose gender is non-standard and then out them in some way, or someone who would think it appropriate to send footage of someone discussing work abuses to their employer.

It's the normalization of constant surveillance of private space by normal people - not just by creepers who you can call out - that scares the fuck out of me. It seems like the worst kind of internet-social-arms-race just waiting to happen.

I think glass and all similar technologies are poison, and I would have a lot of trouble respecting a friend who brought a thing like that into private space.
posted by Frowner at 10:25 AM on May 21 [46 favorites]


You're squigged out by a person with a recording device as opposed to the eye-in-the-sky gadget...It's a very obvious recording...where surveillance cams may not be, and are often above eye level where you're less likely to notice them...It can be jacked into higher-powered gear and churned through with facial recognition stuff and be part of a, say, stadium-wide recording system that tries to follow you around places.

That's part of why the security camera seems less creepy: it's impersonal. It's in the sky; it's up on a wall; it's distant, it's elevated, it's removed. Not only is it less likely to be noticed, but the video is shoots is qualitatively different: the glass is at eye level; it replicates the effect of seeing, and so replicates the creepiness of staring. Whereas the security camera turns people into bits of data to be tracked, into objects to be studied from afar. It's a different kind of creepy, and one that most people find more emotionally resonant.

Beyond that, a security camera is tied to a physical location, and thereby to an easily identifiable individual or corporation. If someone does something creepy with the video from a security feed in a public place and then shares it, there's a much, much greater likelihood that I will, if knowingly creeped upon, be able to effect some recompense, because it's much easier to identify the creep-er. Whereas Glass -- or a cell phone, or other small camera -- is, although more conspicuous at the time of recording, far more anonymous at the time of playback, if the video is shared.

Too, a security camera fulfills, and is usually designed for, a singular purpose -- security -- and although there's legitimate room to be discomfited by that, it at least has a clear reason for existing. The vast majority of the time it is going to be used for that purpose. Glass -- or any other small personal video recorder -- has no such defined function; it's a more general tool, which means you never know why someone is recording you unless you ask them or they tell you.

A lot of it is simply novelty, too -- we haven't yet decided on a set of social norms to handle ubiquitous video. We can debate whether or not it should be creepy, or less creepy than ____, or more creepy than ____, but at least for right now it is creepy, to many people, to have someone walk up to you with the capability to record everything around them, or worse -- to have that happen and you remain unaware.
posted by cjelli at 10:37 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


For most people, heads-up displays might need to be situational rather than all-the-time wearable.

This is very true. Not every technology has to CHANGE THE WORLD, but it seems that's the only way Silicon Valley can conceive of new products.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:40 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


Mobile phones clearly fit a need.
That may be true now, but was certainly not the case 20 years ago. I personally resisted getting any kind of cell phone until 2010 but even old codger crankyness was overcome by the fact that every time I saw my 12 year old niece she implored me to get an iPhone because, like, how could you not?

Technology molds society as much as we do it.
posted by Poldo at 10:42 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


After pissing on it already, there are things I find practically interesting about Google Glass.

If nothing else, what Google's extended pilot program is gauging has nothing to do with technology. They have a cool gadget but they don't know what it's for, so they're letting people figure that out on their behalf.

I think the unintended side effect was the social one. Google really hadn't anticipated that public response would be negative.

HUDs and augmented reality devices have been around for a while already -- the best and coolest examples being Boeing's use of them in airliner construction. But they are specialized units that don't have any utility outside of the little domains they're built for. Google Glass, at least, can stand in for the first-generation general-purpose device with some threshold of usability. Finding appropriate uses for it that don't dramatically transgress the social compact*.

Whatever shakes out from this, the real challenge for Google is going to be twofold: Undoing the public reputation damage, and figuring out how to sandbox the Google Glass to minimize its transgressive applications. That'll be a toughy. One possibility -- probably the best and obvious option -- is to get rid of the camera. After all, you can use your smartphone for hours a day without using the camera; the phone still knows where you are and knows what time it is. There is a fucton of information that can stream at you without a camera. There are many things that can be done through voice command and visual feedback that don't require recording what you see and hear.

*(Which for this argument I'm going to define as: I get to decide the extent of my privacy when in your presence. You do not get to decide for me.)
posted by ardgedee at 10:43 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


How is talking into your wrist a desirable state of things?

It isn't, necessarily; but having yet another gadget to sell to credulous people is a desirable state of things for a tech company.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:45 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


"Vultures" like from Neal Stephenson's Snowcrash.

They're called Gargoyles. Get your cyberpunk right!
posted by FJT at 10:47 AM on May 21 [6 favorites]


To me, as a highly visible, wearable product, the desirability and "qualities" Google Glass is perceived to convey on the wearer are much more important than its function (battery life, etc.) and/or usefulness.

Appearance is a factor, but (perhaps shallowly) a good piece of emerging tech, especially a wearable piece needs to convey a feeling of "Look at me/this! This silently lets the world know I am x" onto the wearer, not "...I hope no one notices."

I'm thinking of the "i" devices from Apple, specifically. Better interface aside, a significant part of their success was that the public felt they conveyed a slew of qualities to the owners of these devices, who could feel the world was perceiving them as being: Financially comfortable... if not well-off, cutting edge, smart, tech-savvy, etc.

As mentioned above, there are a number of people who use bluetooth earpieces, but there is also a significant portion (arguably the majority) of the cell-phone using populace who won't use them or won't broadcast using them in public, regardless of any additional convenience and/or utility, specifically because it has the tendency to make one look self-important, silly and/or insane.

People do not enjoy looking stupid, or having the (perhaps illusory) feeling of being perceived as odd, stupid, or "different" in an unenviable way. Sure, Joe Public wants to be unique... but out of admiration and/or envy, not out of weirdness/derision.

There have been items with heavy market saturation and massive marketing campaigns behind them, but once public opinion shifted to "HAHA.. THAT LOOKS TEH STOOPID!" they quickly all but faded, and became purchased primarily as gag-gifts... I'm looking at you, Shake Weight.

I think it is obvious that Google is striving to achieve this "positive-unique" type of reputation with Google Glass through their marketing, whether it be providing free samples to celebrities, press covering invite-only beta testing (worked for gmail, right?), or trying to promote copy which appears to make Glass synonymous with freedom, adventure, doing cool things, and being cool oneself. As to the success of this marketing time can only tell.

Perhaps unfortunately, with current privacy concerns, Snowden leaks, anxiety about the NSA, and Google's own reputation for assimilating and filtering data, there exists an anchor to this product rooted in fear of the boogey-man.

I am quite interested in seeing how this product turns out. Personally, I don't know if I'd want the public scrutiny and suspicion which I would perceive the world assigning to me, but who knows.

Also, I think I was born in the wrong decade for this product, because I just cannot look at Google Glass without immediately reciting in my head:

"WHAT DO WE DO?!"

...

[bzzzt]

"We die..."

posted by Debaser626Again at 10:47 AM on May 21 [8 favorites]


I suspect that part of the reason that Google Glass in particular is creepy, as opposed to how such a product might be received if it were to become a mass-market item, is that participating in such a program marks a willingness to pay a company to advertise for them, which is creepy, and that it marks a willingness to advertise for Google in particular, a company that has discomfited a lot of people inside and outside of the tech industry recently, which is creepy. Just buying a similar thing off the shelf wouldn't communicate the same level of commitment to the thing, which I think would go a ways towards lowering the level of suspicion people feel about it. That's not to say that I welcome such a development, but there you go.
posted by invitapriore at 10:49 AM on May 21


There are two good things about Google Glass.

It's making people think about the real-life implications of this class of tech: we've adjusted to the idea of everyone carrying cameras all the time, but we now know that's different from using them all the time - or not being able to tell whether they're being used or not, which is much the same thing for many cases.

The other good thing is that it's a failure. If you could buy Google Glass for $29.99 when you went out for a pint of milk, it'd be a failure. This particular form factor of assistive technology is not suitable for general use, and may well not have enough niches to survive. We've got a lot of finely-tuned interactivity smarts for face-to-face interaction, and we don't need stuff that gets in the way. And stuff we wear has to earn its keep: forget about smart watches, even wrist-watches are going away. The clock on your phone is less convenient, but it's always there. There's nothing about wristwatches that justifies their use when their function is redundant. As status symbols or chunky bangles, well, if that's your thing (and my nixie watch is definitely my thing), but as a ubiquitous class of object?

So that's a lesson learned.
posted by Devonian at 10:53 AM on May 21 [5 favorites]


I just realized, after reading cjorgensen's story of Google Glass at the urinal, that if there isn't somebody wearing them to parties at IML this weekend, I don't even know why we as a culture work on inventing anything at all ever.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:53 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


(Also.. I am a firm believer that the Umbrella Hat is an awesomely utilitarian product which protects the user from both sun and light/moderate rain, and as such, is far more useful on a day to day basis than a handheld umbrella, but that it will never gain traction outside of the "Today, not a single fuck is given" crowd, the elderly, and gag-gifts... simply because you can't help but to look like an idiot wearing one.)
posted by Debaser626Again at 10:53 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


Eh, fuck the judgy people. Even as a white guy people are constantly judging me. Many years ago, I decided to say fuck you to all of them, and that policy is still in effect. If I want to openly carry my AR-15 around in public, I will.
posted by Naberius at 10:55 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


"Vultures" like from Neal Stephenson's Snowcrash.

They're called Gargoyles. Get your cyberpunk right!


And it's "Snow Crash". /pedant

David Brin's 1990 novel Earth predicted that elderly people would take to wearing video glasses and recording everything, from ecological crimes like illegal toxic waste dumping to kids on their lawn, figuratively speaking. I found the novel a pretty hard read mostly because the depiction of the state of the world and society in general seemed entirely too plausible. I'll have to read it again now to see how well he did.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:56 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


Otherwise, people wearing them will always be distrusted by everyone around them, all of the time. Not to mention that you risk immediately starting a fight or being arrested if you forget and wander into a bathroom / locker room / etc. - Mitrovarr

The /r/creepshots fiasco alone, never mind the general culture around it, is enough to indicate that "taking pictures of women without their consent and posting them to the internet" is a pretty valid concern. - griphus

It's funny that the privacy concerns that men and women (potentially, theoretically, strawmanually from these two comments) have from Glass are in more or less opposite spaces - restrooms and more or less everywhere else for women.

As a woman, I have no worries about Glass being used to spy on me in a restroom because I would be using a stall. The technology to spy on me in a dressing room is already out there, there's nothing to be done about it, besides occasionally sticking a clearance tag over a suspcious whole in the wall. Glass is more likely to be a problem for me on a subway or in a Starbucks because, whoops, I wore a skirt or a scoop neck T-shirt and I bent over to pick up some litter. Tease.

It's interesting for me to think of a bathroom as a potentially dangerous place because it isn't for women - or at least, I've never known it to be, unless it's a gas station late at night (or really gross). The idea that I might be threatened there by another woman - or that I might make another woman feel threatened - hadn't really occured to me until someone had mentioned it previously on MeFi.
posted by maryr at 10:56 AM on May 21 [5 favorites]


To stick to a non-tech product, so as to satisfy conversational requirements, I don't think people really care or even think about who is behind a product like Olestra.

"Olestra: behind everything you eat"
posted by zippy at 10:59 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


Glass is more likely to be a problem for me on a subway or in a Starbucks because, whoops, I wore a skirt or a scoop neck T-shirt and I bent over to pick up some litter. Tease.

I find myself wondering how ubiquitous personalized surveillance is going to change our whole experience of embodiment. In the past couple of years, I've found myself much more aware of how I am sitting or standing, whether what I am reading is visible to people, whether an innocent interaction could be dramatically misread if the audio were subtracted...purely because I know that there are fifty million assholes out there and an unflattering or embarrassing image of me could conceivably be posted because hey, it's fun to make fun of the fat queer gender-non-conforming person . The last time I fell off my bike, in fact, one of my first thoughts was not "oh, I'm glad I didn't hit my head" or " I wonder if I tore my rotator cuff", it was "I'm glad it's dark and rainy so that no one could have filmed this for the lulz". When you add the capacity for regular people to film and photograph things immediately to sophisticated recognition capacity...well, that's a series of accidents waiting to happen. Just knowing that I can be surveilled - both by the state and by amateurs with malign intent - has definitely made me more uncomfortable in public and has added to the always-already "people socialized female learn to think of their bodies as public bodies" thing.

I find myself imagining more and more rigid interpersonal style as a requirement for working class/pink collar/low-level-information-work people, because risking the dispersal of a dangerous/inappropriate/shaming image will come to risk our ability to work.
posted by Frowner at 11:05 AM on May 21 [8 favorites]


The thing is that I can pick whether or not I enter a building with surveillance. ... moreover, I can assume that most such locations are going to have it.

Doesn't that second line essentially mean the first isn't true? You really can't pick - they're just fucking everywhere. Ardgedee is right - that doesn't mean we have to be cool with the expanding of it. But I think the level of hostility (and maybe hypocrisy in camera-equipped places that are Glass-banning) is kind of amazing when placed next to "eh, I'm recorded everywhere by every business, whatevs."

The Google Glass guy can record me across the street without my noticing. The Google Glass guy can record me in an NYC subway car that has no cameras in it otherwise and I can't actually escape that scenario until the train stops or someone gets into with the guy. The Google Glass guy can follow me around, surreptitiously,

We may have to disagree here - I think the ubiquity of cellphones and people fucking around with them creates an order of magnitude more opportunity for people to record without it being obvious. Someone in Glass is not, to my mind, remotely surreptitious. Yeah, they aren't holding up a camera to their face and texting strictly in my direction, but I can put my cellphone in my shirt breast pocket and the lens faces out over the top. It sees wherever I am pointed. and is infinitely more subtle than Glass.

That's been a reality for years. Glass is just painting a big THIS GUY MIGHT BE RECORDING sign on someone and making a lot of us deal with what's already come and gone. I don't like it

So, yeah, for me, at least, my tolerance of corporate/government surveillance (the presence of which can basically be assumed in most places and behavior tailored accordingly) and my intolerance of an individual person being able to personally and secretly record the behavior of others very well survives critical introspection.

But with cellphones and cheap & disposable gadgets you can simply assume that any public place someone might have some recording dingus. And they might have bought it off one of a multitude of websites for way less than Glass. Google body camera and the top Google-ad hit is a $345 pair of glasses that a creeper could wear and record you and there's no way you'd ever know. There's other stuff for a fraction of that price that wouldn't survive close-up attention but you probably wouldn't identify it from 10 feet.

Glass we can identify from 10 feet, and it's only on people who can blow thousands on a cutting-edge generalist dorky gadget. Maybe that's an explanation I can buy - the people with one are revealing themselves, by wearing it, as folks whose personal judgment I am inclined to think is broken. So they're more likely to be transgressive than most others.

But I still think "oh I might be recorded" as a reaction rising into general hostility doesn't match up with how most people react to the world.
posted by phearlez at 11:05 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


is pretty interesting, if for no other reason that it's not hard to imagine that, when Apple announces something like this there will be people falling all over themselves to gush about how awesome it is. Let's face it: in these times, it's not the product, it's how it gets sold.

I realise now that this was a sarcastic comment about Apple users and don't really want to start the argument, but the puzzling thing to me about Apple is that somehow with the iPod, they got both the timing and the marketing correct and then kept getting it right, when it feels like the history of Apple is a long pattern of introducing some product or idea and no one really caring, either because it wasn't very good or they couldn't sell it to people, and then a couple years later, some other company has wild success with the same thing. The Newton is the prime example of that.
posted by hoyland at 11:08 AM on May 21


The moral issue is intrinsic to the technology and can never be solved. Except by snatching the things off people's faces and stomping on them faster than Google can make them.

My generation had the opportunity to do this with car alarms. The first time I had to sit up in the middle of the night listening to one of those things blaring away, I thought, "If I and everybody else in the neighborhood went outside right now and destroyed that guy's car, we could nip this trend in the bud." But we didn't. We failed. Think about it the first time you see somebody wearing these things.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 11:09 AM on May 21 [6 favorites]


Doesn't that second line essentially mean the first isn't true? You really can't pick - they're just fucking everywhere.

But not the same camera run by the same person. If I go from Store A to Store B, I'll likely be recorded in both but A knows nothing about my behavior in B and vice versa. If Store A is giving me an odd vibe I can go to Store B, etc.
posted by cjelli at 11:11 AM on May 21


David Brin's 1990 novel Earth predicted that elderly people would take to wearing video glasses and recording everything, from ecological crimes like illegal toxic waste dumping to kids on their lawn, figuratively speaking. I found the novel a pretty hard read mostly because the depiction of the state of the world and society in general seemed entirely too plausible. I'll have to read it again now to see how well he did.

The place Brin got that most wrong isn't the recording, it's that the world came to view people's appearance in these recordings and products as being valuable in a way they should automatically get paid for (and presumably at a statutory rate, a la music broadcasting). The reality has been that even as we constantly recognize that people's words and appearances and testimony have value (see: everything in social media, facebook faves, etc) we continue to let business aggregate them and use them with no obligatory compensation to the users.

EARTH never anticipated that Disney could put a sign up at the main entrance (which you paid a huge price to enter, by the way) saying they would feel free to use any bit of anything they capture of you in their commercials and promotions or maybe even sold product all they want without ever getting another release from you or paying you a dime. Written to reflect the way people really get compensated the novel would have come to a grinding stop because those guys wouldn't have gotten the payout to accompany their embarrassment - no driftfleet or anything else, they just all kill themselves in shame and the old fart goes on a cruise with all the profits he pocketed.
posted by phearlez at 11:13 AM on May 21


It's like someone invented pants with a built-in chair, so you would always be able to sit down.

Coming soon: Google Ass
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:14 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


If I go from Store A to Store B, I'll likely be recorded in both but A knows nothing about my behavior in B and vice versa.

But what happens when camera data from both stores is inevitably sold to Marketing Entity C or given to Government Entity D? Suddenly the whole world has an odd vibe.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:14 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


the people with one are revealing themselves, by wearing it, as folks whose personal judgment I am inclined to think is broken

Weev.

...that's who I picture every time I see an image of someone wearing Glass (never seen it in the real world yet). The fact that the biggest Google fanboys I know are also Weev fanboys probably has something to do with it, and is not fair of me.

But still.
posted by aramaic at 11:19 AM on May 21


But what happens when camera data from both stores is inevitably sold to Marketing Entity C or given to Government Entity D?

That's a concern in terms of data collection, yes, but in terms of the /r/creepshots issue already mentioned not really applicable. It's not unreasonable to be concerned about mass data collection, but it's a different kind of concern than most people have with Glass (rightly or wrongly).
posted by cjelli at 11:21 AM on May 21


Most surveillance cameras don't have the capability (or likelihood) of uploading my conversation/face to the internet, tagged with my real ID, and maybe edited for LOLs when I thought I was having a private conversation. Because businesses have better things to do with their time/resources.

I mean, yes, dude with iPhones can do this, but they still have to try to sneak up on me. And their phones don't tell them my name.

People keep saying "you can see them! it's dorky!" without understanding that the tech will not be visible for long, and so become impossible to spot/avoid. I will no longer get to know people, at least on a first conversation, without having to wonder what they're pulling about me off the internet right this second and how that's shaping their perception of me. At the moment, those who care have to go Google me after meeting me/knowing my name. Once the facial recognitions software is implemented, that information will just pop up automatically to anybody who decides to stare at my face. Maybe, for example, I might be acting as a clinic escort or just a person arguing with antichoice protesters and now they have access to all kinds of info about me without effort, and can use that put me in danger. Or my kid. Or all the women coming into the clinic.

That's what's different.

You'll just have to excuse me if I find someone's desire to never have to remember someone's name at a party less important to this discussion than the ability to stalk me becoming dead easy for every asshole with a grudge.
posted by emjaybee at 11:23 AM on May 21 [8 favorites]


But not the same camera run by the same person. If I go from Store A to Store B, I'll likely be recorded in both but A knows nothing about my behavior in B and vice versa. If Store A is giving me an odd vibe I can go to Store B, etc.

Sure. Assuming they aren't all uploading their shit to CustomerSatisfactionFacialRecInc, who pays them $1 a day to use the system which does facial rec and tries to track which business you shop in. Maybe they get an extra $5 if they integrate their register to ping it when a sale happens so they can track people actually spending money, and match it up with your payment method. And maybe your customer loyalty card.

But what happens when camera data from both stores is inevitably sold to Marketing Entity C or given to Government Entity D?

Or handed over the the local police department without a warrant as a condition of their business licensing and shoved into a big-ass file after being run through facial recognition and stored essentially forever.

It is ALL SO FUCKING GROSS AND SQUIKKY and all around us all the time and only getting worse. Not because of some fucking clown with Nerdtacular Spectacles, but because there is ZIPPO FUCKING NOTHING assiging the value of our databasing to us. That's why I think it's amazing to read

Except by snatching the things off people's faces and stomping on them

When there's not a dozen riots at malls every single day.

But then again I am kind of amazed there's not daily riots all around for so damned many reasons, so I am clearly not viewing the world in the same way as everyone else.
posted by phearlez at 11:26 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


The Google Glass guy can record me in an NYC subway car that has no cameras in it otherwise and I can't actually escape that scenario until the train stops or someone gets into with the guy.

I wasn't paying attention the last time I rode a NYC subway car, but I'm amazed they don't have cameras in them. Especially after the Madrid bombing.

I might buy those sit-anywhere pants, by the way. If they were comfortable and maybe light enough to take backpacking, all the better.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 11:28 AM on May 21


Glass right now has a technological problem and a use case problem.

Once that is resolved, the social problems will be resolved in time. People tend to weigh the benefits of the technology vs the social taboos associated with it and if the tech is good enough, the social taboos go out the window.

The Glass team should focus on resolving the issues with display, battery time, voice/swipe control and weight/size of the device.

For me, there are two main types of glass interaction categories: facial as well as gesture recognition and conversation monitoring and decoding.

I think the key features of the device are related to its ability to do voice and gesture monitoring and presenting relevant information. Camera is an add-on feature.

Facial recognition connected with contact information would be great. Gesture monitoring is another thing that glass would be good at. make a sign and the glass becomes active. make another sign and the glass goes into your contact list... use signs to scroll and then connect with someone.

Conversation monitoring and decoding it to present relevant information would be another. You are talking about Kanye's latest song .... here is some information, pics, videos, reviews etc. You are talking about weather .. here is the weather information if you need it. You are talking about baby foods, here is a comparative analysis of best baby foods. You are talking about horoscopes .. here are the horoscopes for the week. You are talking about an old friend .. here is when you last met .. his/her current status message, and how to connect with him. You are talking about Kant's concept of rationality in determining morals ... here are some interesting articles and concepts. You are discussing a book or a movie .. here are some quotes or relevant sections.

A device which enables constant conversation monitoring and providing you with relevant information is capable of changing our world. Glass is not there yet technologically. I think its at least couple of years in app development and breakthroughs in battery as well as display away from being useful.

as far as concern for being videoed or photographed matters, its simple to solve technologically. a cover on the lens which needs to be raised and acts as a flag when the camera is active will help. Or Google could sell two models: one with camera and one without and let people choose what they want.

All the hullabaloo about creepyness of the device will become weaker as majority compares the trade off of the device vs the privacy and adjust accordingly and history tells us that majority has always gone for increased conveniences compared to increased privacy.

The fact that anyone could find out where we lived was considered creepy and dangerous at some time but we got over that and now happily post pictures of our house and provide multiple ways for people to reach out to us.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 11:35 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


I wasn't paying attention the last time I rode a NYC subway car, but I'm amazed they don't have cameras in them.

The stations have cameras. I think retrofitting each car in the older model trains with security cameras them has more problems than the MTA can reasonably overcome. A big one, I assume, is how to keep people from stealing or destroying them.

There are supposed to be trains with cameras coming in 2015 but I'll believe it when I see it.
posted by griphus at 11:36 AM on May 21


And now it's 2024,
Knock-knock at your front door,
It's the social media secret police
They have come for your uncool niece
posted by entropicamericana at 11:41 AM on May 21 [9 favorites]


People keep saying "you can see them! it's dorky!" without understanding that the tech will not be visible for long,

The recording tech hasn't been visible for years. That doesn't address your concerns about the instant feedback/lookup, but the capturing close-up images of you (or creepshots from hidden locations) is a ship that sailed long ago.

In lighter news, fuck this dorm, it's on fire.
posted by phearlez at 11:41 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


You are talking about Kanye's latest song .... here is some information, pics, videos, reviews etc. You are talking about weather .. here is the weather information if you need it. You are talking about baby foods, here is a comparative analysis of best baby foods. You are talking about horoscopes .. here are the horoscopes for the week. You are talking about an old friend .. here is when you last met .. his/her current status message, and how to connect with him. You are talking about Kant's concept of rationality in determining morals ... here are some interesting articles and concepts. You are discussing a book or a movie .. here are some quotes or relevant sections.

None of which necessarily requires, or is even improved by, wearable tech. I'm not saying that there will never be any reason ever for that sort of technology, but the reasons to buy into it would have to be a lot more compelling (for me) than your examples.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:50 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


I was at a urinal when the guy wearing a pair of these was standing next to me. I didn't catch him peeking

I don't think peeking is the issue. Cameras, in theory, can work in directions you aren't looking. It's the ubiquitous presence of cameras that you wear with you in private places that is the creepy thing, and which press the lines of social appropriateness in ways that people are right to be weirded out by.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:56 AM on May 21


The one use case I heard of that made me think Google Glasses might not be a total failure was a situation where someone was, say, repairing something (imagine something critical) and could be communicating hands free with someone remotely who could see what they were doing and also perhaps send videos of what the person should be doing.

This more or less makes sense to me - you can pick holes, but I hope you get the general idea.

It would mean having a pair in the workplace maybe, it wouldn't mean actually wearing them while walking around.

It may be difficult to function in the real world without a mobile phone right now, but I still don't feel I need to carry it with me all the time and everywhere. Why do people keep insisting that we will all be wearing Google Glasses eventually?
posted by maggiemaggie at 11:59 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


Put me down as also thinking the privacy backlash is slightly misplaced. On one hand I totally understand that "you have no privacy here" can be projected as a threat to great psychological impact. See also the use of *fake* security cameras. On the other if I wanted to actually do clandestine recording I wouldn't choose the device that attaches to my face and requires my physical presence at the site of recording. I can't tell you off the top of my head what's out there as far as *real* creep tools go, but I bet they are already way more effective than google glass and only getting better. Or in other words worries about the existence of *some* spaces where you don't have privacy will be eclipsed by the realization that increasingly *any* space could be such a space and you have no way of knowing.
posted by atoxyl at 12:00 PM on May 21


And now it's 2024,
Knock-knock at your front door,
It's the social media secret police
They have come for your uncool niece
My apologies for being slow. I assume this is directed at my comment but I have no idea what it means.
posted by Poldo at 12:10 PM on May 21


It's not knowing, it's normalization. Right now, even though there's reddit creepshots and so on, a guy who does that is a gross asshole and his victims have some social traction. When it's totally normal to be filming people without permission all the time, all of the sudden everyone's body is a public body all the time and there's no social traction for pushback.

"Oh, it will just be a new social norm!" Yeah, that's great. I look forward to the day when it's a "new social norm" that I can't have a private conversation without being aware that if it's funny, deeply personal, embarrassing or merely a way of building social capital for the recorder, that conversation can totally be posted to the internet and I won't be able to complain because it's totally normal. It will be so awesome when people who take creepshots and engage in body snark and other forms of shaming aren't considered gross and immature by a sizeable portion of the world, they're just considered average.

There is a world of difference between "this guy recorded an embarrassing private conversation and while it has harmed me to a degree, it's also harmed him a lot" and "this guy recorded an embarrassing private conversation and it's harmed me but he's just building his brand".

The thing is, I hope and pray that Glass doesn't take off, but I expect that it - or something like it - will. And then everyone will be totally gobsmacked by the entirely predictable, large drawbacks. Of course, those drawbacks will be most acute for working class people - particularly women and people of color - while your average creative-class one-percenter will just be like "tee-hee, yes, this video shows how I do burlesque in my spare time, look how trim Cross-fit, pilates and plastic surgery have kept my body, now hire me to do highly-compensated work because my personal brand is sexy and transgressive!" The kinds of things that will be crippling for the socially vulnerable will be monetized or turned into amusements by the elite, as usual.
posted by Frowner at 12:12 PM on May 21 [22 favorites]




a security camera fulfills, and is usually designed for, a singular purpose -- security -

We live in VERY different worlds, and I don't think I can reconcile this viewpoint with -- objective reality.

You are being spied on. Apparently it's not the spying but the perception of whom is doing it and how that's the problem.
posted by mikelieman at 12:20 PM on May 21 [6 favorites]


California Uber Alles, Dead Kennedys

the paraphrase was from The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy rewrite: "I'm the governor Pete Wilson, you know/The baddest Governor to ever grab the mike and go BOOM..."
posted by thelonius at 12:22 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


Glass right now has a technological problem and a use case problem.

Once that is resolved ...


Resolving those things is not merely non-trivial, it is The Whole Thing.

The big successes come from both strong tech and strong use cases. I think nobody really knows if wearables are going to take off (despite the hype) precisely because nobody has cracked the intersection of tech and use case.

See also: The Internet of Things.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:36 PM on May 21


Tech-wise, the focal distance of a HUD seems like the biggest hurdle. Are there any novel approaches to that out there? Short of beaming light directly onto the retina or optical nerve jacking ...
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:38 PM on May 21


(What I was trying to say, I think, is that the more socially vulnerable people are, the more need they are likely to have to compartmentalize their lives and maintain some privacy, and the more blowback privacy violations are likely to have. Someone who is wealthy and privileged will be less vulnerable to Stuff Being Revealed and will be less likely to have ordinary but disastrous secrets - the low wage worker with a chronic illness can be fired as a bad risk to their employer, but someone who is wealthy has more resources to fight that, is less replaceable and probably works a job more compatible with a chronic illness; the wealthy trans person is more likely to have access to jobs and safe housing even if they're outed, while the poor one may be super-dependent on family or vulnerable to job loss; the rich woman who strips for fun or because she's getting her PhD will just get a reputation for being kicky and transgressive, but the poor woman who does sex work who gets outed to her family risks losing her kids. That's one of the reasons that I am worried every time there's a substantial increase in surveillance technology - the people who are decision-makers about this stuff (like those fucking assholes at Google) are the very people who will be protected from any downside by their class position.)
posted by Frowner at 12:41 PM on May 21 [16 favorites]


You are talking about Kanye's latest song .... here is some information, pics, videos, reviews etc. You are talking about weather .. here is the weather information if you need it. You are talking about baby foods, here is a comparative analysis of best baby foods. You are talking about horoscopes .. here are the horoscopes for the week. You are talking about an old friend .. here is when you last met .. his/her current status message, and how to connect with him. You are talking about Kant's concept of rationality in determining morals ... here are some interesting articles and concepts. You are discussing a book or a movie .. here are some quotes or relevant sections.

Once these become ubiquitous, the other person's HUD is presumably giving them the exact same snippets of info, so what is the added value of your HUD?

Or perhaps different services are set up on different HUDs, which means that either some people will be able to afford better real-time information than others, either through personal wealth or through business-purposed databases -- an acceleration of information asymmetry and potentially economic inequality -- or the real world starts look a lot like the Internet, so your wacko uncle can even more efficiently turn any discussion into an excuse to parrot [insert objectionable pundit here].
posted by kewb at 12:46 PM on May 21


Re: focusing. Lenses can take care of it, though all I'm seeing so far is single focal lengths (usually infinity). I wonder if anyone is working on adaptive lenses that change apparent focal length of a HUD as you refocus your eyes ...
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:47 PM on May 21


when these come out as contact lenses i am so down.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 1:01 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


The failure of glass (and at this point I think it is fair to call the first edition failed) is that it isn't clearly great in any context. A more successful model is what I've seen with Recon Instruments. They have production HUDs for snowboarding and one in the works for bicycling. These are environments where, for competitive reasons, you want access to real time information but your hands are otherwise engaged and you don't want to compromise your view.
posted by dgran at 1:09 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


For those commenting about Glass's look-up-and-to-the-right display being suboptimal, it's also a criticism Steve Mann makes- he says that pinhole displays are the right way to do this (way down in the long article):

"My pinhole aremac is the reverse of a pinhole camera: It ensures that you see a sharp image through the display, no matter how you focus your eyes. This aremac is more complicated than a barrier with a pinhole, though. It requires a laser light source and a spatial light modulator, similar to what’s found inside many digital projectors. With it, you can focus both eyes normally while using one eye to look through the mediated-vision system, thus avoiding eyestrain."

http://spectrum.ieee.org/geek-life/profiles/steve-mann-my-augmediated-life
posted by AaronRaphael at 2:00 PM on May 21 [4 favorites]


Even if these get popular, you won't be able to wear them on a subway because people will snatch them. Who wants to walk around with several hundred dollars on their face?
posted by empath at 3:02 PM on May 21


Who wants to walk around with several hundred dollars on their face?

I used to pay a couple of hundred bucks for prescription glasses before my eyes got fixed.
posted by mikelieman at 3:29 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


People don't steal prescription glasses. People are already stealing Google Glass -- sometimes just because they're offended by them. 1, 2...
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:03 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


sometimes just because they're offended by them

Reading the second link carefully, it sounds like the individual wearing camera glasses may have been behaving in an obnoxious manner when surveilling bar patrons. Hard to say if it is true, but the main article suggests that the police didn't sound too interested in pressing charges against the people who took that individual's camera.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:15 PM on May 21


Return them? He can sue! I believe the precedent was set in Reiner v Opti-grab.
posted by condour75 at 4:24 PM on May 21 [5 favorites]


AaronRaphael: COOL! Thanks
posted by wemayfreeze at 4:28 PM on May 21


They have a few units at work. I tried one, but found that, being short-sighted in my right eye, I am completely unable to use it. There is no option to swap sides (my left eye is almost fine), and the nearest option would be to order a custom prescription unit. So, unless I get contact lenses or laser eye surgery, I'm left behind, or possibly immune.
posted by acb at 4:35 PM on May 21


You are talking about Kanye's latest song .... here is some information, pics, videos, reviews etc. You are talking about weather .. here is the weather information if you need it. You are talking about baby foods, here is a comparative analysis of best baby foods. You are talking about horoscopes .. here are the horoscopes for the week. You are talking about an old friend .. here is when you last met .. his/her current status message, and how to connect with him. You are talking about Kant's concept of rationality in determining morals ... here are some interesting articles and concepts. You are discussing a book or a movie .. here are some quotes or relevant sections.

Speaking as someone who has inadvertently memorized vast quantities of largely useless information and is able to effortlessly retrieve said information from memory without any prompting whatsoever, lemme just say that outside of very limited contexts (bar trivia contests) being a walking font of random factoids does not help at all in reducing one's dorkiness.
posted by jamaro at 4:52 PM on May 21


every time i hear about this, i think about how epically they fucked up by

1. putting a camera on it

2. not making the camera have a giant blinking bright red light.

seriously, everyone whinging about it would look like a backwards luddite whining about nerds if the thing didn't have a camera, or if at least it was painfully obvious it was recording.

go look at any discussion about it, they all center around the camera. why'd the thing need a damn camera? everyone has a phone with a camera on it anyways.
posted by emptythought at 5:01 PM on May 21



I used to pay a couple of hundred bucks for prescription glasses before my eyes got fixed.


I think you'd have a more interesting case if you talked about people who walk around wearing non-prescription sunglasses worth several hundred dollars - the drawbacks people are usually referring to with that kind of statement are
a) showing off your disposable income, and
b) presenting an easy target for someone else to acquire several hundred dollars of value for themselves by stealing it

Neither of these are really an issue with prescription glasses: people don't think of them as signs of disposable income but as necessities, and their value is usually far lower than cost to anyone but the original wearer.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 5:02 PM on May 21


Neither of these are really an issue with prescription glasses: people don't think of them as signs of disposable income but as necessities, and their value is usually far lower than cost to anyone but the original wearer.

I agree that people don't think of glasses as being signs of disposable income, but that's kind of interesting given how much money people spend on eyeglass frames. Some people's glasses are expensive because their lenses cost an arm and a leg, but some people's glasses are expensive because they have expensive frames, which are signs of disposable income and presumably have some resale value, given that lenses can be changed. That said, I'm not totally sure I could look at someone and tell you if they have expensive eyeglass frames--mine probably look like they came from the two-for-$79 selection at America's Best, but you could likely find frames that cost hundreds of dollars that don't look all that different to mine.
posted by hoyland at 5:10 PM on May 21


They'll eventually fix all the technical issues. The moral issue is intrinsic to the technology and can never be solved. Except by snatching the things off people's faces and stomping on them faster than Google can make them.

I'm so sick of people suggesting it is in anyway ok to assault people wearing Google Glass. This has to stop. Do you also suggest we rip out nose rings because they are offensive? Punch a cosplayer?

posted by humanfont at 5:20 PM on May 21 [5 favorites]


FWIW, I've been to a couple of gaming conferences where several people were wearing GoPros or similar cameras on their heads. Seemed less creepy, somehow.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:23 PM on May 21


Even if these get popular, you won't be able to wear them on a subway because people will snatch them. Who wants to walk around with several hundred dollars on their face?

I can't help but notice when on the tube that plenty of passengers have got expensive watches, expensive headphones, expensive mobiles, and expensive laptops.
posted by ambivalentic at 5:36 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


I like Glass. Glass provides me with information at a glance when I want it. For example when I'm driving I don't need a gps on my phone always there pulling my attention from the road, I just need a screen to appear periodically before waypoints and intersections to guide me through. I like being able to tilt my head up and get the time. I enjoy having an instant on hands free camera when I'm out with my kids or riding my bike. I like being able to get the weather forecast and weather alerts right when I want them. It works well enough for me. Ymmv
posted by humanfont at 5:42 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


California Uber Alles, Dead Kennedys

How prescient.
posted by Apocryphon at 6:15 PM on May 21


screw these crappy glasses where's my freakin flyin car?!
posted by HyperBlue at 8:30 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


Except by snatching the things off people's faces and stomping on them faster than Google can make them.

Return them? He can sue! I believe the precedent was set in Reiner v Opti-grab.

He hates these cans glasses!
posted by phearlez at 8:37 AM on May 22


Man, thanks for making me plan on watching that movie again this weekend. "I'm Somebody!"
posted by mikelieman at 10:24 AM on May 22


where's my freakin flyin car?!

Can't help you there, but would a hoverbike tide you over?
posted by bonehead at 10:32 AM on May 22


The first wave of invites for the Google flying car program went out earlier this year. I signed up immediately, though it was difficult to convince my spouse to mortgage the house for the "explorer edition" So far my experience has been mixed with a lot of ups and downs.
posted by humanfont at 10:40 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]






The restaurant with its 24x7 multicamera CCTV security system obviously takes your privacy seriously.
posted by humanfont at 5:08 PM on May 23


The restaurant with its 24x7 multicamera CCTV security system obviously takes your privacy seriously.

It's quite possible to think that both the CCTV and the Google Glass thing are Bad Things, but to feel that trying to torpedo a restaurant's business because they asked you to take off your $1500 gadget feels like a severely disproportionate response.

Also, I don't see anywhere that this particular restaurant has multiple CCTV cameras; where is that information coming from?
posted by kewb at 9:55 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


I'm sure Google will be following up with an algorithm to deal with the Glass owners who wrote fake reviews to materially hurt Feast's business.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:08 AM on May 24




All the cops in my town are always pawing at their goddamned laptops while they drive, so I'd rather them be all ARed up with both hands on the wheel.
posted by planetesimal at 9:59 PM on May 30


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