Will the futuristic eyewear be a benefit or a burden? Photo: wikipedia/be-x-old

Google glass – innovative or intrusive?

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In terms of consumer electronics, 2012 was an anticlimactic year. Promising so much but delivering so little, 2012 offered mainly iterations of already existing gadgetry (read iPhone 5, iPad Mini, Microsoft Surface etc.) With not much else of interest on the horizon, the future looked bleak for technophiles like myself, hungry for our next source of innovation. Enter Google.

Earlier this month, technology monoliths Google finally unveiled, after almost a year of growing anticipation, a demonstration video featuring details about their latest project: a pair of sci-fi-esque, glassless eyeglasses that project a smartphone-like interface into the user’s retinas. In addition, the gadget features a mounted 720p camera that can record and stream to others whatever you are viewing at any given instant. The device is completely manipulated by voice commands and includes comprehensive internet integration, from social media to search functions to a head-up display navigation system.

Once one overcomes the rather bizarre aesthetics, Google Glass is a technical marvel to behold. It represents a pinnacle of human interaction with technology, creating a far more immersive and involved experience than ever seen previously. For those of us endlessly fixated on our phones, Glass will provide a completely new and exciting means of staying connected, both with personal contacts and the internet community in its entirety.

Glass also proves that Google are continuing to take a forward thinking and revolutionary approach, despite their inherent success. Google has developed a somewhat infamous reputation for plagiarism after a number of high profile lawsuits –most notably against Oracle over the Android operating system and Paypal for Google Wallet – but Glass, alongside their recent driverless car, positions the internet behemoths to re-establish themselves at the cutting edge of consumer electronics research and development.

As with all innovations, Google Glass is not without its criticisms.

There are some that argue Glass would further reinforce the perception that we are, to an extent, over-reliant on technology and the internet. As it stands, it is a distraction – and in many social situations rude and disrespectful – to take out your smartphone and browse your choice of social media. Now envisage instead that you can do the same without even moving your hands, or even diverting your attention, constantly connected to a virtual world outside of our reality.

Then there is the issue of the device’s potential intrusiveness. Google is no stranger to privacy controversies – take, for example, the scepticism when Google Chrome proposed to store and retrieve more information about users in order to provide more targeted marketing. Glass is no different, but this time the ramifications are quite possibly more alarming. Imagine Google being able to monitor everything that you see or do, including observing any passwords or security codes you may happen to use. Alternatively, consider that anyone who is wearing Glass may be recording your actions without your knowledge or consent. Clearly it is still too early to form opinions as we do not know the full terms of Google’s eventual privacy policy. However, questions must be asked of the device’s security.

Scheduled for US release later this year, Glass is probably the most exciting prospect looking forwards – even with Apple’s rumoured iWatch and Sony’s Playstation 4 imminent. Even with the speculated $1500 price tag, consumers are still excited about this bold move forward. Glass is a game changer that transforms the way we interact with our technology, and, if Google gets it right, will hopefully spark a new movement of innovation within consumer electronics.

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