Don't know if you've been following the progress of Google Glass (Google's augmented reality glasses) since our last post about them, but back in February Google ran a pilot for 8,000 beta users. As a possible large scale release and adoption of augmented reality glasses draws ever nearer, this has been generating a number of concerns related to detachment (they'll affect the way humans interact with each other!), distraction (probably shouldn't wear them while driving, right?), and PRIVACY (everyone everywhere could be recording and sharing EVERYTHING without your knowledge or consent!). As Mark Hurst put it in this excellent Creative Good post, "The experience of being a citizen, in public, is about to change."
Video: "I used Google Glass"
It's the privacy concern that will probably most impact libraries and their users. Already in our daily lives we're faced with security cameras, smartphones, and other devices capable of easily recording and sharing our every move. What happens when these devices become part of our clothing and are with us --and ACTIVE-- wherever we go? And what role do libraries have in providing privacy from such devices to their patrons? (How does your library respond when someone whips out a camera and starts snapping photos or recording? It may become more common, and with augmented reality glasses you may not even know it's happening...)
Tasha Saecker, assistant director of the Appleton Public Library, posted about this topic recently on her Sites and Soundbytes blog, urging libraries to start a dialog now, before Google Glass or other augmented reality glasses enter the library. How do you think libraries should approach this new technology?
Takeaways from the video and reading more about Glass:
Interesting. You probably won't be reading books using Google Glass (think "headlines" or "news stories being read aloud to you", short replies or emoticons, sharing... simple, quick interactions). A camera was not originally part of Google Glass. There will be lots of tapping your glasses or talking to them using voice recognition. Google is aiming for having Google Glass out as a consumer product by the end of 2013.
Concerning. You won't know who is taking pictures of or recording you. Tons of information could be collected and potentially integrated with other Google technologies. Add in facial recognition and speech-to-text software, and everything you've ever done in proximity of a Google Glass device could be cataloged and made available by Google. It's a leap, but it could technically happen.
Want more about the glasses? Check out this page for a video of the Project Glass presentation made at last month's SXSW event in Austin, Texas. The article has more information about the presentation; the video is 50 minutes long and includes a live demonstration of the glasses (starting around 10:52), some geeky stuff about the code in the middle (min 16-26:30) and a summary of what Glass developers have learned over the last few months (26:30-end). Personally, I'm not sure that I'm ready for "constant on" and I'm definitely not thrilled about the privacy aspect of it, but it is some pretty cool technology.
Want more on the privacy issue? Try these: "Google Glass and Surveillance Culture" and "Google Glass half full: Why that 'ban" may not be needed"