It’s chic, it’s beautiful, it’s futuristic: it is the world’s most popular search engine’s groundbreaking invention, Google Glass. For those who may not yet be aware of what this is, let’s cross off the obvious and tell you it has nothing to do with drinking. The Google Glass is an eyewear computer that takes commands like Siri and functions like a hands-free smartphone.
While they haven’t yet designed a collection of shades suited for every type of face shape, Google is currently offering a choice of colours from charcoal to tangerine to sky blue, each with a colour matching rectangular-shaped computer at the top right corner of the frame.
No matter your age and how aware you are of technology, the Google Glass is very easy to use. Through simple phrases like “Okay Glass take a picture” or “Okay Glass, record a video,” the Glass acts out any command beyond just searching. It allows the user to text, call, share what you’re seeing with others in the moment, record, take photos, translate your voice, answer any question you may have, offer directions and display any relative information that you may need in the moment such as weather, the time or a flight schedule.
If this isn’t mind blowing enough, Google is talking about one day offering Google Glass users the ability to control household appliances and recently applied for the rights to an application called “Wearable Computer with Superimposed Controls and Instructions Device.”
There is no denying that this is an exciting moment in history to be a part of and that this type of technology is quite incredible, but as consumers we do need to ask ourselves the important question: Will it be disruptive or will it initiate a positive revolution in human social interaction?
Google co-founder Sergey Brin spoke at the TED talk conference at Long Beach in late February and told the audience that one the motivations behind Project Glass was to remove the social isolation that comes with the obsession with smartphones; to offer people the ability to communicate and connect without your hands and eyes bound to a device.
“I whip this out and sit there and look as if I have something important to do or to attend to,” said Brin. “[Google Glass] kind of takes away that excuse . . . it really opened by eyes to how much of my life I spent secluded away in email or social posts.”
While Brin does bring up an excellent point, there are other concerns that come with technology such as our mental health and the negative consequences that may come from constantly being connected to the internet.
Dr. Andrew Ryder, an associate professor in Concordia’s psychology department, explained that throughout history, startup inventions begin as a fad used by a small network of people, then slowly filter into our daily lives as what feels like a necessity. He uses Facebook as a contemporary example.
“[Facebook] was a neat, practical tool. It had a goal to help meet up with like-minded people using our real name,” said Ryder. Today, however, “it’s used in a different way, and not in a way that Facebook could’ve predicted. It’s the same way I feel with Google Glass.”
Ryder explains that when we use inventions such as Google Glass, it becomes a representation of ourselves. We become so dependent on social technology, that if lost, it’s like losing a part of ourselves in the process.
“At some point psychologically, [a new gadget] becomes part of your extended mind,” said Ryder.
Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, explores in his book how digital distractions could have a negative impact on our concentration, memory and comprehension.
“Be aware of your core values rather than let the technology drive you and your priorities,” said Ryder. “It’s easier said than done, but thinking along those lines can help.”
Another issue that people are concerned with is privacy. Google Glass users will be able to record everyone and everything around them without anyone being aware of it; a privacy dilemma that is continuously being discussed since the introduction of social media sites.
Chad Vachon, a Concordia University sociology and anthropology student, has a critical view of how Google Glass might bring more repercussions instead of benefits.
“As individuals, we have to have some privacy. It’s intrinsic to different cultures and spheres. Technology can infringe on that,” said Vachon. “The world is becoming more of a complicated place. We need to develop an in-depth understanding of privacy.”
The device is set to be released to public in early 2014. There is yet to be an official price, but the developer version goes for $1,500.