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People can see what you’re doing, Google Glass wearers

Google Glass is surely the next big tech innovation to go mainstream, but there is one tiny problem with it no one is really talking about…

google glass

google glass

Google Glass testers know what future wearers don’t

Google Glass has come a long way and is very likely the next step in technology, one of the biggest moves we’ve seen since the launch of the iPhone. It still has dramatic problems which we’ve shared with you, but a problem that no one seems to be talking about is one that perhaps the tech world has just accepted – people on the other side of your glasses can see the tiny projection of what you are doing.

We have the advantage of being headquartered in Austin, so we come across technologies before many other cities might, and Google Glass testers have been seen in the wild for most of the year, but I never noticed until having to be within two feet of someone at a happy hour to be heard that I could actually discern what the tiny projection on his Google Glass was. What I saw at that time was not private, it was harmless, but it got me to thinking – with the advent of porn being made with the device (although third party porn apps are banned), and the ability to watch online videos (ahem, where porn lives), a red flag for privacy went up in my mind.

I’m not a scientist, but it seems the solution could be as simple as a small film on the glasses that obscures the view, much like frosting a large window lets light in but blocks people from seeing the actual activities on the other side of the glass.

It’s a small problem, and one that most won’t be concerned with, but it is one that is highly overlooked and could be a surprise to future adopters as the device becomes mainstream.

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Google takes privacy seriously

Google has long touted privacy as a top priority when developing Glass, and Marketing Land reports that in a “fireside chat” about Google Glass, director Steve Lee noted that social cues can help address some of the concerns.

Lee said, “From the beginning, the social implications of wearing Glass have been at the top of our mind as we develop the product. We’re also concerned about the implications for people around those who wear Glass. We moved the display above your eye, because eye contact is important.”

Further, Lee noted, “To shoot photos or video, there are clear social cues; you have to press a button or speak to glass. It’s a very clear cue for people around you that you’re taking a photo or video. We take trust and the reliability of our software very seriously; our design is done to ensure that the display is active when device is in use.”

Lee’s comment that we took note of but was ignored by most in the tech world is that “You can see from the other side of Glass when it’s active. Our policy for developers will be that you have to allow that.”

Google has taken into account that what the wearer is doing or seeing may be somewhat visible to people nearby (very nearby), and while testers don’t seem to mind, it is possible that mainstream users might feel differently about it. Eric Schmidt is famous for saying, “I think judgment matters. If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

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The company will likely take this same position on what Google Glass wearers are doing, so whether they make changes, the real message is that you should beware what kind of things you’re doing and watching with your device.

Showcase of Google Glass wearers

When you’re face to face with someone wearing Google Glass, you can see slightly what the projection is, and I imagine that some types of videos with certain types of repetitive movement would be pretty obvious. Just saying.

google glass

google glass


google glass

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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