Glass (as it is called by wearers) has been covered in this mag before. Still for those that may not have seen my last article on this topic or who are hearing about Google Glass for the first time let’s start by explaining what “Glass” is.
Google Glass is a wearable eyeglass computer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD). It was developed by Google with the mission of producing a mass-market computer that would be integrated into every activity we engage in during our day-to-day activities. Google Glass displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format. Wearers communicate with the Internet via natural language voice commands.
Also worthy of mention is that Glass is seen as a spying tool by many and as the first small steps of fusing man and machine in ways right out of a sci-fi movie. However, it’s this rapidly growing debate that brings us back for a broader look at this very important technology with incredible social implications.
With Glass being on the open market and the public more aware of it being out there, people realize that the lenses are just the first wave in a growing industry of “wearable computers”:
“For much of 2013, I wore the future across my brow, a true Glasshole peering uncertainly into the post-screen world. I’m not out here all alone, at least not for long. The future is coming to your face too. And your wrist. Hell, it might even be in your clothes. You’re going to be wearing the future all over yourself, and soon. When it comes to wearable computing, it’s no longer a question of if it happens, only when and why and can you get in front of it to stop it with a ball-pein [sic] hammer?” Wired columnist Matt Honan (2013).
Think of it. Computer integration into our clothing and accessories. Walking info center gathering and dispersing all we see and hear around us to others. If I didn’t know better I would say personal privacy is going to be very challenged by all this ubiquitous surveillance wear.
This issues of being recorded as you eat with your family or watch a comedian at a comedy club is taken so seriously by some that they have created counter surveillance measures to block Glass:
Berlin artist Julian Oliver has written a simple program called Glasshole.sh that detects any Glass device attempting to connect to a Wi-Fi network based on a unique character string that he says he’s found in the MAC addresses of Google’s augmented reality headsets. Install Oliver’s program on a Raspberry Pi or Beaglebone mini-computer and plug it into a USB network antenna, and the gadget becomes a Google Glass detector, sniffing the local network for signs of Glass users. When it detects Glass, it uses the program Aircrack-NG to impersonate the network and send a “deauthorization” command, cutting the headset’s Wi-Fi connection. It can also emit a beep to signal the Glass-wearer’s presence to anyone nearby. Wired contributor Andy Greenberg (2014).
Julian goes on to say in this piece by Greenberg:
“To say ‘I don’t want to be filmed’ at a restaurant, at a party, or playing with your kids is perfectly OK. But how do you do that when you don’t even know if a device is recording?” … “This steps up the game. It’s taking a jammer-like approach.”
As pointed out in my last article on Glass, we are dealing with some amazing tech that gives us great power and, at the risk of sounding cliché that demands great responsibility in how we use it. If history tells us anything, it tells us that advance without contemplation and consideration will always end in exploitation. Let’s do our part by staying informed and vocal so that people looking to abuse tech for personal gain know that they are not the only ones watching.