Barely two and a half years after Instagram was launched, eclipsing Hipstamatic through superior sharing functions to be the Social Network that makes Restaurant Owners want to Pull out their Hair, Google has slipped into the kitchen to take a selfie with the cooks.
In a nutshell, Google Glass (stylized GLASS) is a hands-free wearable device which displays information to the user, connects to the internet through voice commands, takes pictures and moving images, and broadcasts what the user is seeing in real-time. Fittingly, the device made its initial debut at New York Fashion Week in partnership with the women’s luxury brand, Diane Von Furstenberg during their Spring/Summer 2013 showcase. With Google co-founder, Sergey Brin seated in the front row the label sent models down the runway wearing colour coordinated prototypes of the device. Some of the footage captured was streamed live, while the rest was turned into a film, DVF through GLASS which took a new spin on showing audiences “what it was like to be at Fashion Week” — a headline that might otherwise receive little more than a nod.
If devices like GLASS can truly capture Life, some inevitable and uncomfortable questions arise. Much has been written about what it could mean for collecting and quickly sharing data in real-time (through the eyes of the beholder, no less, who could be some dude on the bus) and what that could mean for privacy. For instance, the technology has been prematurely banned from a bar in Seattle, and it’s inevitable that other establishments will follow suit. Some fear that GLASS will drown us in data, but there is a larger concern about how technologies like it might shape everyday behaviour. How will we interact with each other knowing that any moment could be uploaded to a server? As The Guardian’s Charles Arthur suggests, new social norms could develop as a result of GLASS and other wearable technologies, like signaling when the device is on and off through gestures or other behaviours. Of course there are positive aspects; hands-free messaging, the implications for Maps and memory capture, the unprecedented opportunity to record the world just as you see it.
Arthur reminds us that smartphones are responsible for the “hunched walk” that has become the standard posture on city sidewalks across the globe. And if photo sharing has altered how we experience a simple cappuccino (we take a picture of it first; we wait for a “Like,” we drink it knowing that it is a documented extension of how we’d like to be seen) imagine the implications for GLASS as a mass consumer product. What you see is what the Internet gets.
*Using the hashtag #ifihadglass on twitter, the GLASS Explorer project made the device available to a select group of developers for a trial period. The company has since confirmed that GLASS will support lens prescriptions later this year.