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Company Tries to Dispel Google Glass ‘Myths’

By Allen Smith  6/6/2014
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Google is going on the offensive trying to bust so-called myths about Google Glass, its recently released wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display. Many of the myths surround concerns about surveillance and invasion of privacy.

It remains to be seen whether the device will be widely adopted in the workplace and how it might be used in various business settings.

Top 10 Myths

According to Google, the 10 main myths about the product are:

  • Glass is the ultimate distraction from the real world.
  • Glass is always on and recording everything. “Video recording on Glass is set to last 10 seconds,” the company stated. “People can record for longer, but Glass isn’t designed for or even capable of always-on recording. (The battery won’t last longer than 45 minutes before it needs to be charged.)”
  • Glass users are technology-worshipping geeks.
  • Glass is ready for prime time. “In the future, today’s prototype may look as funny to us as that mobile phone from the mid-80s,” the company stated.
  • Glass uses facial recognition (and other dodgy things). “We made the decision based on feedback not to release or even distribute facial recognition glassware unless we could properly address the many issues raised by that kind of feature,” Google stated. “And just because a weird application is created, doesn’t mean it’ll get distributed in our MyGlass store.”
  • Glass covers your eyes. “The glass screen is deliberately above the right eye, not in front [of] or over it,” according to the company.
  • Glass is the perfect surveillance device. “Let’s be honest: if someone wants to secretly record you, there are much, much better cameras out there than one you wear conspicuously on your face and that lights up every time you give a voice command or press a button,” the company stated.
  • Glass is only for those privileged enough to afford it. “The current prototype costs $1,500, and we realize that is out of the range of many people,” Google stated. “But that doesn’t mean the people who have it are wealthy and entitled. In some cases, their work has paid for it.”
  • Glass is banned … everywhere. “Since cell phones came onto the scene, folks have been pretty good at creating etiquette and the requisite (and often necessary) bans around where someone can record (locker rooms, casino floors, etc.). Since Glass functionality mirrors the cell phones (down to the screen being off by default), the same rules apply,” the company stated.
  • Glass marks the end of privacy. “When cameras first hit the consumer market in the late 19th century, people declared an end to privacy,” Google stated. “Cameras were banned in parks, at national monuments and on beaches. People feared the same when the first cell phone cameras came out. Today, there are more cameras than ever before. In 10 years, there will be even more cameras with or without Glass. 150+ years of cameras and eight years of YouTube are a good indicator of the kinds of photos and videos people capture: from our favorite cat videos to dramatic, perspective-changing looks at environmental destruction, government crackdowns and everyday miracles.”

Google Glass—A Fail?

Despite the hype, Sean Madden, executive managing director at Ziba Design, a design and innovation consultancy, in Portland, Ore., said, “I don’t see massive adoption of Glass in the workplace.” He added that most people do “not culturally know how to talk with someone who has a camera on their face,” and anticipated that workplaces would be unlikely to embrace Glass until they understand it better.

Madden predicted that Google Glass “will not succeed” but will pave the way for other devices to become popular.

Madden was more enthusiastic about Google Now, which he said can act like a personal assistant and organizer.

Possible Workplace Uses

Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates in Massachusetts, sees a brighter future for Google Glass, noting, “At least one hospital in Boston that I know of has already started experimenting with Google Glass for surgeons. They love it and expect to implement it more widely. They can look at charts, X-rays, procedure manuals—all in mid-procedure.”

He explained that “this application comes under the rubric of ‘personalization,’” which is better suited to some industries than others. Hospitality, for example, “might make excellent use of Glass; front-of-house can communicate with back-of-house while dealing directly with the customer. Personalization works better in hotels and restaurants than in retail settings. Repair and some manufacturing could substitute virtual manuals for physical ones, speeding workflow and reducing errors. Public safety could also work; cops can run a [background check] while walking toward the car, for example.”

Some workers could benefit from Google Glass, Kay concluded, “but the price has to come way down before mass adoption will occur.”

A Google spokesman did not respond to questions about the product.

Allen Smith, J.D., is the manager of workplace law content for SHRM. Follow him @SHRMlegaleditor.


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