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Google Glasses: Causing Controversy

Google Glasses: Causing Controversy

Google Glass is attracting controversy already as commentary surrounding the wearable technology picks up pace. The glasses, which can take pictures and videos, share content directly with social media or email; which offer WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, weather reports and map directions, will also feature bone conduction to transmit sound, instead of traditional earphones.

The technology isn’t entirely new; Panasonic introduced a prototype set of bone conduction earphones at the last consumer electronics show. It works by sending vibrations through the skull, into the inner ear. But why, I hear you say. It sounds a bit barbaric, doesn’t it? Well, it’s actually very civilised, dont'cha know?! Conduction audio allows listeners to hear the noise from their environment aswell, which means it’s less isolating and much safer – it’ll make crossing the road a whole lot easier, anyway.

There is a tiny computer inside the specs which runs on Android’s mobile OS and responds to voice commands or subtle finger movements.

It is estimated that wearable technology could be worth more than $1.5 billion by 2014; the Apple iWatch is also widely rumoured.

But can you see yourself wearing a pair? It appears to be a bit of a marmite situation at the moment. At the TED conference in LA last week, Google boss Sergey Brin dubbed the glasses pretty essential if you want to protect your masculinity; labelling smartphones "emasculating": “Is this the way you’re meant to interact with other people? It’s kind of emasculating. Is this what you’re meant to do with your body? I have a nervous tic. The cell phone is a nervous habit — If I smoked, I’d probably smoke instead, it’d look cooler.” Ok, not sure we agree with him about the smoking bit and we can’t really see how a clumpy pair of specs looks any more masculine than a gorgeous HTC One... But, hey, you never know.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg seems to agree with him; he has said he “can’t wait” until he gets his hands on a pair; an unusually supportive statement from one of Google’s main rivals. Zuckerberg and three engineers from the social network are waiting for the first Google Glass hardware so that they can begin building its Facebook application.

But there has been widespread criticism giving a voice to people’s worries about wearable technology. A spoof video was released (but has since been removed) which depicts man on a first date uses his Google Glasses to find out info about this companion, take photos without her knowing and even watch a football game when he gets bored of their small talk. Charming, eh!? This video taps into a very real public fear that at any moment, in any place you could be captured and videoed, by anybody. A haven for stalkers, right?

One Seattle bar owner certainly thinks so. The 5 Point in the Beltown neighbourhood has already banned the technology a year before its release. On its Facebook page the bar stated: "For the record, The 5 Point is the first Seattle business to ban in advance Google Glasses. And ass kickings will be encouraged for violators."

"I'm a thought leader," said the bar’s owner Dave Meinert. "First you have to understand the culture of the 5 Point, which is a sometimes seedy, maybe notorious place. People want to go there and be not known... and definitely don't want to be secretly filmed or videotaped and immediately put on the Internet. Part of this is a joke, to be funny on Facebook, and get reaction. But part of it's serious," he continued, "because we don't let people film other people or take photos unwanted of people in the bar, because it is kind of a private place that people go." How very eloquent. He's got a point though, right?

In response a spokesperson for Google said: "It is still very early days for Glass, and we expect that as with other new technologies, such as cell phones, behaviors and social norms will develop over time."

Early days indeed; we’re expecting this technology to continue developing at quite a rate of knots over the next year. They have got a crack team of some of the best scientific brains working on it. Sebastian Thrun and his team have worked on not only Google Glass but some pretty darned innovative inventions such as the self-driving car, Stanley, and the robotic carer, Nursebot, that helps elderly people around the house; reminding them to feed the dog, take their pills or go to the doctor.

We could be in for a bit of a ride with these Google-goggs. Watch this space. In the meantime, do you have an old tablet? An old mobile phone? If so then why not "sell my phone" or "sell my tablet" with us today.