Google's wearable Glass gadget: cool or creepy?

Sat May 18, 2013 11:16am EDT
 
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By Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google staged four discussions expounding on the finer points of its "Glass" wearable computer during this week's developer conference. Missing from the agenda, however, was a session on etiquette when using the recording-capable gadget, which some attendees faithfully wore everywhere - including to the crowded bathrooms.

Google Glass, a cross between a mobile computer and eyeglasses that can both record video and surf the Internet, is now available to a select few but is already among the year's most buzz-worthy new gadgets. The device has geeks all aflutter but is unnerving everyone from lawmakers to casino operators worried about the potential for hitherto unimagined privacy and policy violations.

"I had a friend and we're sitting at dinner and about 30 minutes into it she said, 'You know those things freak me out,'" said Allen Firstenberg, a technology consultant at the Google developers conference. He has been wearing Glass for about a week but offered to take them off for the comfort of his dinner companion.

On another occasion, Firstenberg admitted to walking into a bathroom wearing his Glass without realizing it.

"Most of the day I totally forget it's there," he said.

Many believe wearable computers represent the next big shift in technology, just as smartphones evolved from personal computers. Apple and Samsung are said to be working on other forms of wearable technology.

The test version of Glass looks like a clear pair of eyeglasses with a hefty slab along the right side. Since it began shipping to a couple thousand carefully selected early adopters who paid about $1,500 for the device, it has inspired a bit of ridicule - from a parody on "Saturday Night Live" to a popular blog poking fun at its users.

Other industry experts take a more serious tack, pointing out the potential for misuse because Glass can record video far less conspicuously than a handheld device.   Continued...

 
Google founder Sergey Brin poses for a portrait wearing Google Glass before the Diane von Furstenberg Spring/Summer 2013 collection show during New York Fashion Week in this September 9, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Files