Google Glass announced Monday it’s joining forces with eyewear giant Luxottica (the makers of Ray-Ban and Oakley) to design, develop, and distribute “innovative iconic wearable devices”. Google Glass is essentially a hands-free smartphone, offering users the ability to take pictures, surf the web, and check the weather all with Glass’ minimalistic touchpad. When introduced last year, the product raised instant privacy concerns.
Google is not the only company innovating their technology in a way that deteriorates privacy – Facebook recently announced their DeepFace facial recognition software can match faces with near human accuracy. Facebook can say with 97.25% accuracy whether photos contains a specific face. Humans can perform the same task with 97.53% accuracy.
The combination of the two has the ability to create a rather dire privacy situation. If Google Glass technology is implemented on normal, everyday glasses, people will be able to snap silent pictures of you without your knowledge. The snapshots can be then be uploaded to Facebook where DeepFace identifies you with better accuracy than a human. Seamlessly.
Ironically, this will help your online (and offline) privacy
Pushing forward with these technologies will ultimately hurt, not help, Google and Facebooks’ businesses. Why? Because we value our privacy. In the past, having privacy has been sort of like breathing: we’ve always taken it for granted. This is no longer true. As companies continue to violate our privacy on and offline, consumers will fight back with more gusto than ever before.
People have already deserted the conventional, convenient ways they once knew in favor of a more private online experience. Stats don’t lie: private search engine, DuckDuckGo, more than doubled its search queries in 2013 and ad-blocking tools are now the most popular browser extension on the web.
Clearly, people value their online (and offline) privacy and will seek out tools to protect their personal, private information – especially when it can be accessed and used without their permission in the real world.
Google Glass pushes the privacy envelope; that’s for sure. But beyond privacy, the whole premise is just too much. Have we become so lazy that taking our smartphones out of our pockets has become inconvenient? A line has to be drawn somewhere, or else we face becoming literally one with technology. To me, Google Glass is that line.
That being said, Ray Ban & Oakley are in a brilliant can’t lose situation here: either they sell more Google Glass or sell more sun glasses. Which do you think will happen?