To say that Google
(NASDAQ:GOOG) Glass is the poster child for wearable tech would be an understatement. The focus of both the media and the public on privacy issues around Glass, along with the social acceptance of tech as fashion, only further the idea that people have already accepted Glass as an integral part of their future.
However, there are still a lot of questions on the table about how Glass will be used and whether it's a threat to privacy and social order, and Google execs haven’t been going out of their way to provide answers.
Before society can adapt to Glass, it seems Glass will have to do some adapting of its own. Thus far, Google has already struck down facial recognition apps that could have potentially provided users with intimate details about the lives of complete strangers. That’s just the tip of the creepy and immoral iceberg, but even if Google dedicates itself to quashing inappropriate apps, it's not clear that Google has full control.
"Cracked" app stores, such as the now-defunct Hackulous, enable users to acquire paid apps for free, as well as access apps that don’t necessarily meet set guidelines, including Apple’s
(NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google's, when it comes to content and features.
Glass was hacked within days of its release to developers, according to Forbes
. Jay Freeman, the California man behind the hack and creator of Cydia, which allows users of iOS to install software packages on jailbroken Apple products, claims that he could potentially undo any restrictions Google decides to place on Glass. That’s not exactly a sign that Google will be able to avoid an unregulated and free app market being established for its product.
With Google’s Explorers program providing a couple thousand users with a beta version of the product, the first apps that could aid those morally questionable motives are starting to find their way into people’s hands.
Here’s a few to be aware of.
Already a gesture that can cause social discomfort, the wink is now even weirder than before.
Mike DiGiovanni, the emerging tech lead for Roundarch Isobar, a global communications agency headquartered in London, has created the Winky app to allow Glass wearers to take photos with the wink of an eye. This eradicates the need to use the voice commands or control panel buttons that Google has created. It also means that anyone anywhere can take snapshots instantly and discretely.
While it is not impossible to catch someone snapping unsolicited photos, a wink certainly draws less attention than stating, “Okay, Glass, take a picture.”
An app that functions based on an eye movement makes is a logical innovation for Glass, but in the case of this new technology, ease of use could soon be synonymous with ease of abuse. For every person recording a scenic view or an action scene as they ride their bike, there could very well be someone taking advantage of the technology.
Skitch, a photo editing app, is part of Google’s official Glassware, which are free third-party apps available for download. DiGiovanni’s app is not one of these, but the ability to add captions and images and share to Facebook
(NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter via Skitch could easily tie the app to Winky.
With Skitch, photos taken via Winky could, in theory, be captioned, edited, and shared over social networks in mere seconds. What was already a single person’s inappropriate foray into someone else’s business could become a public window into someone’s life.
With reputations and identities on the line, this app combo could prove to be a very dangerous one.
It’s hard to predict exactly how a user will interact with and utilize an app, but while there are certainly positives to Winky and Skitch, the MiKandi app is a little tougher to justify.
MiKandi is an adult app store that boasts over 4 million users and 7,000 pornographic apps. This week, it released an app called T**s and Glass
(yes, we had to bleep the name), only to have it removed by Google hours later. Google pulled the title after it decided to edit its platform developer policies to prevent adult content from being accessible through apps, according to The Verge.
MiKandi already has plans to make changes to its product and attempt a re-release today.
“Obviously, Glass is perfect for shooting POV video, so we’re experimenting with that first. But what’s really interesting about Glass is that it’s not just a hands-free camera. It can receive and send data, so there are a lot of interesting interactions that we want to explore,” said MiKandi Co-Founder Jennifer McEwen.
The banning of adult content may provide a temporary solution, but if the illegal app market develops, there won't be much that Google can do to keep Glass clean.
Yes, in the very near future, anyone sporting Google Glass could be casually watching porn. It may seem ridiculous to think that anyone would watch porn in public, but in 2012, the New York Times reported
that the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library planned to install 18 plastic privacy shields due to repeated complaints about people catching unwanted glimpses of the pornography others were watching.
"It's an issue playing out not just at libraries, but in cafes and gyms, on airplanes, trains, and highways, and just about any other place where the explosion of computers, tablets, and smartphones has given rise to a growing source of dispute: public displays of mature content," said the Times
On the bright side, Google Glass would make porn viewed in public places visible only to the Glass user. But that doesn't bring much comfort.
Evernote is also part of the ever-growing Glassware collection and the company behind Skitch. This note-taking app is largely successful and is already established on various platforms, including Microsoft’s
(NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows, Apple’s OS, Google’s Android, and BlackBerry
Users of Evernote can keep all of their notes across various platforms in one location and can also include Web pages, voice memos, and photographs alongside what they jot down.
Its convenient organizational features are what helped fuel its success, but with Evernote on Glass, the potential for cheating in the classroom has never been greater. With far more stealth than glancing at a cell phone, students can utilize notes and snap pictures during exams.
With US News reporting
that one-third of teens were using cellphones to cheat back in 2009, and with colleges growing more competitive and more expensive each day, the temptation to abuse tech is only going to increase.