Google’s latest invention, the augmented reality (AR) eyewear known simply as Glass, is not even on the market, yet along with excitement over this possible glimpse into the future, Glass is also causing controversy. It’s become the focus of a Stop the Cyborgs campaign, spawned proposed legislation in the US state of West Virginia that bans its use while driving, and is device non grata at one bar in Seattle.
Dubbed Glass Explorers, 8,000 American beta users who have been given Google Glass are about to embark on an experiment documenting what Glass can and can’t do; the reactions and results generated will determine its future. Until now only a select few Google employees (including co-founder Sergey Brin) have sported Glass in public, mainly eliciting curiosity. But outside the tech-friendly environs of Silicon Valley and New York, Glass Explorers are sure to get different receptions.
Steve Mann, a wearable tech pioneer (pictured below) sometimes described as a cyborg, was assaulted last July during a visit to a McDonald’s in Paris when he wore his sartorially similar augmented reality device EyeTap. While no explicit reason for the attack was given, Mann inferred from words exchanged in the scuffle that his assailant feared the EyeTap was a recording device.
That sentiment has morphed into a movement with Stop the Cyborgs, a London-based organisation’s campaign to ban Google Glass and similar devices. It formed in February when some friends were discussing an article that fatalistically accepted the demise of privacy.