Google Glass picks up early feedback on privacy issues
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Google Glass the most anticipated piece of electronic wizardry since the iPad and iPhone, will not go on sale for many months. But the resistance is already under way.
The glasses-like device, which allows users to access the internet, take photos and film short snippets, has been pre-emptively banned by a Seattle bar. Large parts of Las Vegas will not welcome wearers. West Virginia legislators tried to make it illegal to use the gadget, known as Google Glass, while driving.
"This is just the beginning," said Timothy Toohey, a Los Angeles lawyer specialising in privacy issues. "Google Glass is going to cause quite a brawl." As personal technology becomes increasingly nimble and invisible, Glass is prompting questions of whether it will distract drivers, upend relationships and strip people of what little privacy they still have in public.
A pair of lens-less frames with a tiny computer attached to the right earpiece, Glass is promoted by Google as "seamless and empowering." It will have the ability to capture any chance encounter, from a celebrity sighting to a grumpy salesclerk, and broadcast it to millions in seconds.
"We are all now going to be both the paparazzi and the paparazzi's target," said Karen L Stevenson, a lawyer with Buchalter Nemer in
Los Angeles. Google stresses that Glass is a work in progress, with test versions now being released to 2,000 developers. Another 8,000 "explorers," people handpicked by Google, will soon get a pair.
Among the safeguards to make it less intrusive: you have to speak or touch it to activate it, and you have to look directly at someone to take a photograph or video of them.
"We are thinking very carefully about how we design Glass because new technology always raises new issues," said Courtney Hohne, a Google spokeswoman.
Developers, however, are already cracking the limits of Glass. One created a small sensation in tech circles last week with a programme that eliminated the need for gestures or voice commands. To snap a picture, all the user needs to do is wink.
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