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Why Google digital glasses are a prescription for disaster

Google digital glasses are more dangerous than you expect

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We've seen accident after accident of people texting, gaming, or web surfing while walking. The US government is now considering banning all automobile phone calls, including hands free.

Now, Google reportedly will have digital glasses on sale by the end of the year, according to the New York Times. Doesn't it seem like a bad time to develop digital displays in front of our eyes?

That's right: Android-based lenses overlaying your world with information like maps and data. We all knew this augmented reality product was eventually coming, but it is now looking literally like a disaster (or more) waiting to happen.

How they work

We'll apparently pay between £159 and £382 ($250 - $600) for glasses with one computerised lens, PCWorld's Daniel Ionescu noted earlier Wednesday. The lens will be a contextual heads-up display that can tell you, for instance, how far you are from your destination. They aren't designed for continuous wear, however.

Like Android phones, these goggles will be licensed to third-party companies and will use a 3G or 4G connection to download data. And how will you control the menus? By nodding and bobbing your head.

Watch out for that tree!

Early reports say that the glasses aren't designed for everyday wear, but that's akin to saying that smartphones aren't meant to be carried all day or home computers were only for certain tasks - before we carried our smartphones all day and used home computers for most tasks. I doubt that Apple planned on people texting while walking, either.

Glasses are actually the final piece to Google's mission: To know what a user doing every single moment of the day. The search giant already is unifying some 60-odd products into one log-in for continuous online tracking. And, as we reported last week, it's enticing you to use Google to come up with those web passwords.

Yeah, the digital glasses will be pretty strange and, at worse, pretty dangerous. Here are the very likely problems with Google's ambitious product.

Google's power, however, comes from knowing everything you do online. By wearing Android-powered glasses, you're giving Google unprecedented access to:

  • Your location at all times
  • Your most common interactions
  • Your closest companions through facial recognition
  • Your eating, shopping, and traveling habits

Remember the fiasco with the Google van snooping on people's Wi-Fi? You can imagine us having that same conversation about Google recording our movements, our moments, and our life without permission.

Grand theft sunglasses

As some commenters have pointed out, glasses theft could definitely rise once these expensive specs come out. If so, that might parallel the high number of iPod and iPhone thefts that occurred when those technologies first arrived.

Worse, imagine being the boy or girl at school with computerized lenses. Aren't four-eyed school kids getting harassed enough without wearing Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge eyewear?

Coupons 24 hours a day - now in your eyes!

It's all about location, location, location, and Google's goggles will have a direct bead on you 24 hours a day. On one end are Groupon, Living Social, and other mass-coupon services, and on the other are FourSquare, Gowalla, and other check-in companies. Google jumped into the middle of the fight last year with its Google Coupons app and, more recently, with Google Latitude check-ins.

Both Google Coupons and Google Latitude aren't making much of a dent in the competition, but having tracking data on users 24/7 would be a huge coup for both services. It would be automatic check-ins, pushed suggestions, and coupons. Lots and lots of coupons.

It's easy to picture a major food chain, like McDonald's-owned Chipotle, paying for a top spot on your eyeglasses, kind of like an ad on Google search.

Or, say, the message could offer you a coupon every time a Chipotle restaurant is within a mile radius (which, at least in my neighborhood, is often). The Times estimates that the glasses will be priced like high-end smartphones, so you can bet that cheaper, subsidized goggles will come along for those willing to see tons of ads throughout each and every day.


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