From the woooorld of tomoooorrooow file at The New York Times:
On Wednesday, Google gave people a clearer picture of its secret initiative called Project Glass. The glasses are the company’s first venture into wearable computing.
The prototype version Google showed off on Wednesday looked like a very polished and well-designed pair of wrap-around glasses with a clear display that sits above the eye. The glasses can stream information to the lenses and allow the wearer to send and receive messages through voice commands. There is also a built-in camera to record video and take pictures.
“It is unquestionably the future, and you would have crashed your stupid flying car anyway.” – Three Panel Soul.
That said, maybe not everything that comes out of Project Glass will be entirely benign. Here are a few examples.
1) It’s not your driving, it’s everyone else’s.
There are already laws in many territories against using your cell phone while driving. This was hazardous even before text messaging became so rampant. People still talk and text even with the laws in place, despite hands-off gadgets being a dime a dozen. I think I see them in checkout lines now next to AAA batteries and copies of People.
Those laws will probably have to be adjusted again for these glasses. Who knows what these same people will be trying to do while driving? Video conferencing? Tipping their favourite camgirl? Watching that damn TV show they couldn’t get home in time for?
It’s just too bad that it’ll be tough for the average traffic cop to figure out who’s surfing Suicide Girls while driving and who’s just driving.
2) Everyone starts getting really paranoid.
As above, once these glasses become commonplace and the “touch to capture” limitation is removed, it’ll be really hard for the outside observer to tell who’s taking photos or recording video and who isn’t. Which is sort of awesome in the Chaotic Good “governments should be afraid of their people” kind of way.
Sure, basic cell phone cameras have already done that despite the act of recording something with a cell phone being conspicuous as hell. That’s the whole point: these glasses don’t have that same handicap. Just tilt your head in the general direction of your target and, like Troy Barnes, pretend like you’re sleeping.
Unfortunately, the camera functionality becomes much less awesome in the “is that guy taking photos of my rack or just nodding his head” kind of way. 4chan will have entire threads dedicated to that, no doubt about it.
You know that Google’s original version of these glasses won’t be the last. Just imagine all the third-party models and licensed tie-ins. Geordi LaForge VISORs from ThinkGeek! Mass Effect replica headwear on the Bioware store! DIY steampunk designs on Etsy! Someone out there will be making a killing off nostalgic geeks with disposable incomes.
Oh, who am I kidding? I’m totally one of those geeks. I’ll take eight!
4) A whole lot more useless apps.
While it’s true that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure (hello, Skyrim meme that never was!) I’ve always found it hard to apply that principle to smartphone apps. Let’s face it: most of them are junk, or clones of junk, which I say knowing full well that I still have that stupid Rebecca Black soundboard on my iPod Touch.
Project Glass could take this trend in a whole other direction. How many “Terminator vision” or “Halo HUD” apps do you think will emerge within a week of launch? Speaking of…
5) The games for this thing are going to be terrible.
I’ll admit: the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this story was that awful episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation when aliens almost took over the Enterprise by getting all the adults hooked on “Get The Disc Into The Hoops: The Game”. It’s hard to imagine that Project Glass games will be any better given the nature of the hardware, yet you know people will try developing games for it anyway.
Will we have Wesley Crusher and Ashley Judd around to save the day this time?!
6) Cyberpunk fashion moves closer to the norm.
Neckbeards of the world, break out your old trenchcoats! With Project Glass, you’ll finally have a functional gadget for your Adam Jensen cosplay, beyond those simple bluetooth earpieces. Merch is a factor here as well: it probably won’t be long before someone out there turns Google’s contraption into sunglasses. Perhaps implantable sunglasses.
Also, there will probably be an app that makes the sky the color of a television tuned to a dead channel. Bonus!