The majority response to Google Glass should have been, “That’s cool and geeky and I don’t want one.”
But put a camera on it and everyone loses their minds. The response is “People will violate my privacy and I can’t allow others to have one!”
All I want to know about Glass is, which Google X management committee decided to include a camera? I’d bet it’s the same bunch that’s backpedaling and prohibiting face-recognizing apps.
It sure wasn’t their all-star industry experts. Steve Mann was manhandled in a McDonalds for having a camera bolted to his face. Thad Starner owes his academic accomplishments to his totally camera-free wearable computer.
Cyborg technology has its own challenges to overcome. It needs a UX. It needs apps and use-cases. It needs to overcome the Bluetooth Douche Crisis. Even developing and manufacturing the things is a war. Why pile the white-hot privacy issue on top?
The privacy debate has completely stolen the wearable spotlight. No one talks about apps or appearance – the chatter is all about “big brother” and covert shots of women’s asses. The anti-Glass group Stop the Cyborgs should rename itself People Against Wearable Cameras – their blog is a laundry list of privacy concerns with the occasional mention of FOMA.
Banning facial-recognition apps isn’t enough. The damage has been done. Google Glass is inextricably linked with a hive mind that will take your picture when you’re drunk, post it on Google+, and forward it to your boss.
The worst part is that this backlash will carry over to other wearables. Camera-free competition, with the emphasis on productivity versus snapping your lunch, will inevitably arise, but people will stick their hand in your face to block the nonexistent camera.
The wearable camera might be the lowest-hanging fruit of wearable, but it’s rotten to the core. Stick with improving productivity and cut the camera. Show people why they should use a wearable, and don’t give them a handhold to campaign against it.