LOS ANGELES — Google has been selling its newest high-tech device, Google Glass, to a select group to test the technology so it can be improved for the mass market. The biggest criticism has been about privacy.
When Professor Marcia Dawkins first heard about Google Glass, she had only one thought.
“I thought this is something I definitely need for my classroom and hopefully for my personal life too,” she said.
Dawkin's Google Glass looks like a pair of bright orange glasses, without lenses. But there's a tiny rectangular glass at the top right-hand corner of her orange frame. Through that glass, Dawkins has been recording video while biking.
She's also been able to talk to her sister in Thailand with Google Glass. She's planning to use the device in her classroom to teach a public speaking class in the coming year. Dawkins also wants to record her lectures with Google Glass to allow her students to see what she sees.
“I often tell them at the beginning of the term, if you can see me I can see you, but they never believe me. They think they are invisible when they are behind the laptops,” said Dawkins.
Not everyone, however, embraces this new technology.
“It is essentially going to allow people to come in and spy on you and record that, without you knowing what is going on,” said John Simpson, director of the privacy project with the public interest group, Consumer Watchdog.
But Google’s Chris Dale says the device is designed to address that concern.
“In order to activate the camera or to record the video, you have to take an explicit gesture or say something out loud. So I tap, I activate the device, and say 'Okay, glass, take a picture.' Similarly, I have a little button on the top here that I can push that will again show an explicit gesture to everybody around me that a picture is being taken and a video is being recorded,” he said.
Filmmaker Chris Barrett showed just how easy it is, though, to record people without them knowing. His glass captured a man getting arrested after a fight at a fireworks show. He posted the video to YouTube.
Mike DiGiovanni created a way to take pictures with just a wink.
Hackers have been able to get facial recognition technology to run on Glass. The technology can scan a face, identify the person and provide information about that person. Google says it will not approve face recognition applications.
Consumer Watchdog’s Simpson says it may be up to Congress, however, to protect people’s privacy.
“I think it is going to require some serious legislation. We are going to have to pass some laws,” he said.
Dawkins says privacy concerns will be a part of her classroom discussion, as she uses Google Glass to enhance her students’ learning experience.