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John C. Dvorak on Google Glasses: A Joke and a Legal Nightmare

aNewDomain.net — Last Friday in PC Magazine I wrote a column about the Google Glass project saying that it is my belief that the whole thing is a massive hoax perpetrated by practical joker Sergey Brin, who has been seen everywhere wearing these devices. I made some comments on Twit.TV with Leo Laporte about the Google Glass hoax idea, too.

But let me clear up a few things.

First off, I am not just being provocative or tongue-in-cheek here. I really do not believe these glasses are anything but an elaborate practical joke on the part of Google and the Google Glass project.

Will they ship? Yes, there are 1,000 units in testing now and Google reps say Google will ship them for real next year. Will they set the world on fire? I doubt it. Will they make a huge percentage of the population look like idiots? Totally.

And that’s just the start of what I am talking about.

I’d like to add some more insight into these glasses — starting with the purpose behind them, if there actually is one besides just the sheer nuttiness of the device. The point is to take pictures.

These are mostly crummy pictures that I’m guessing will be used to augment Google street view with more close-up details.

Here’s a shot Google employee Steve Lee shot while demonstrating Google Glass hands-free photo-taking while driving. In other words, once you begin to wear the glasses you are working for Google for free. Nifty.

DvorakonGoogleGlassesHoaxpicSteveLee

Image credit: Google employee Steve Lee

Worse, the glasses have the potential to track you as a consumer. You go to the store and the glasses see what you are looking at. What is attractive? What gets your attention? What do you linger over?

Wonderful. Now you are becoming an unpaid and unknowing Google-backed research consultant.

If these glasses ever caught on, then you can be sure law enforcement would get a look at the data and identify potential perverts, pedophiles, or two-bit criminals by tracking their eyes in relation to what the camera is seeing.

You’d think this possibility would stop anyone from ever using the glasses. It’s doable, after all. But by the time users figure this out, it’ll be too late.

Unfortunately, all of this is obvious because we’re able to see in retrospect what happened with smartphones. They track your every movement and the data will be stored somewhere forever.

And that brings me to an image of one tech commentator, Robert Scoble. He says he has been wearing these glasses since he got his pair and that he’ll never take them off. They are great, he says.

How are they great? He never elaborates, but Scoble did wear them in the shower. He took a pic of himself in the shower and posted it. Now, perhaps unbeknownst to Scoble, apparently, Google now owns a naked picture of Scoble.

This is because he would have glanced in the mirror after the shower or before while wearing the glasses. Scroll to the end of the story to see the Scoble shower photo.

At any rate, as a result of this, someone at Google now qualifies as a voyeur and should probably be arrested.

The legal issues get more complicated when Google collects data from the glasses then stores it on its servers. Within the data cache will be naked pics of kids — some of which kids will stupidly take of each other, or of themselves, in the shower, or parents will take pics wearing the glasses assuming some measure of privacy.

These pics are technically child porn. What does Google do now?

This sort of complication does not bode well for the future of the glasses and convinces me that Google never intended them to be brought into the public domain.

The legal team at Google would have to double in size to deal with any of it if Google ever gets access to the Google Glass data. And that is the point, or so Google says. If Google cannot get at the data then what good does any of this do for Google?

And because the glasses require a lot of head bobbing I’d expect to see some lawsuits over that, too. The complaint: I used Google Glasses and now my neck won’t work anymore.

My thinking is this is good for a laugh and that’s all the company will get out of it. A good laugh. And nothing more.

How long will the charade continue? With this gullible public, the sky is the limit.

Photo of tech pundit Robert Scoble wearing his Google glasses in the shower, taken by his wife, Maryam Scoble.

dvorakgoogleglassscobleinshower

Image credit: Maryam Scoble

Photo of Google Glass work area, taken by Google Glass wearer and employee Stephanie Yang.

Dvorak on Google Glasses Hoax, Google pic
Image credit: Stephanie Yang

Here’s Google founder Sergey Brin talking about the Google Glass at the TED 2013 conference in March 2013.


Video: TED 2013

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  • Gina Smith

    Excellent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502752253 facebook-502752253

    I have for many years had a very constant and reliable way to determine upcoming technology trends. Read John C. Dvorak, and whatever he predicts is the opposite of what will happen. This is not 100% reliable, but it’s pretty damned good.

    I had taken little interest in Google Glass before, but now I think it is probably very well worth checking out.

    • Paul Bonner

      -facebook-502… Whoever it was who told you that it was cool to keep repeating a joke until somebody laughs was wrong.

  • http://www.howardgreenstein.com/blog Howard Greenstein

    I think anyone seeing Robert Scoble’s mirror shot has been punished enough, no need for legal action ;)

  • http://twitter.com/SolomonCapistra Solomon Capistrano

    You crack me up dude. Scoble’s “review” I found so fanboyish I almost puked. But I ask myself this question all the time, if I was at work or in a restaurant and someone was wearing google glass would I get up and leave? And the answer I come to every time is *absolutely*. Turning us all into surveillance cams is pretty disgusting and although they expect culture to adjust as it did with people talking on cell phones in public places, I dont see it happening. Once the hype wears off (if anyone buys these) I can easily see people getting their *ss beaten just for having them on.

  • mcbeese

    I’m trying to keep an open mind, but so far I don’t see the use case that justifies Glass.

    – Glass will not be permitted where I work. And yes, employees have been informed that using phone cameras without approval is also cause for termination.
    – I will not be so rude as to wear Glass in a social situation, and I will not hang around with those who are that rude.

    If you want to demonstrate to the Glassholes what the issue is, get your smartphone out, launch the camera, and just keep your camera pointed at them. You don’t even have to press record or take a picture (but you could, that’s the point). For 5 seconds they’ll feel important. By 30 seconds they’ll feel really awkward. By 60 seconds, they’ll think you’re a creep and they’ll either leave or punch you, but now they might understand why we think of them as Glassholes.

  • http://twitter.com/frankjonen Frank Jonen

    Scoble’s shower shot was made by his wife as he explains repeatedly. Which I believe to be true given how crap the Glass shot images actually are in quality. Yes, they’re worse than his shower shot.

  • http://writtenandread.net M. Juhl-Johansen Zölde-Fejér

    And if it was contact lenses? Do you all agree with the technological premise?

  • http://www.facebook.com/cliffhinnj Clifford Hamblen

    Saturday Night Live did a very funny lampoon of Google glass last night, showing how ridiculous you would look using it.

  • weaselcommander

    Great points. Two chilling reminders of the donation of our privacy to a private company and of course the thought of Scoble’s wang.

  • Paul Bonner

    Absolutely spot on, John.

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