The Glassholes are coming

Lovely Irish Times piece by Shane Hegarty about the implications of Google’s new toy.

Imagine the near future. Sometime next year. You, sir, are standing in a public toilet and a man sidles up to the urinal beside you. He nods at you out of politeness. You notice he’s wearing glasses. Then the guy takes out his phone and snaps a picture of you going about your business.

Something approximating a fuss would, no doubt, ensue.

At some point next year, maybe in a public toilet but probably on the street or on your morning commute, you’ll see your first pair of Google Glass glasses, the internet for the eyes that are currently with developers but have been given an increasing airing in recent weeks.

You’ll look at them. Everyone will look at them. The wearer will be looking at you. And you’ll stick it in the memory bank, tell the office about it and try and describe it.

But the Google Glass owner? He’ll have been able to record the whole encounter, play it back, download it, upload it, save it.

The funny thing is that even the Google bosses are beginning to wake up to this. Here, for example, is the company’s Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, talking about it at Harvard:

Talking out loud to control the Google Glasses via voice recognition is “the weirdest thing,” Schmidt said in a talk on Thursday at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

People will have to develop new etiquette to deal with such products that can record video surreptitiously and bring up information that only the wearer can see, Schmidt said.

“There are obviously places where Google Glasses are inappropriate,” he said.

Google is making the glasses available to software developers this year but has said they won’t be available more broadly until 2014.

Google has decided that it will pre-approve all apps offered to glasses users, unlike its more wide open market for Android phones and tablets.

“It’s so new, we decided to be more cautious,” Schmidt said. “It’s always easier to open it up more in the future.”

LATER: Turns out that Google’s plans to have Apple-type control over Glass operating system might be a bit optimistic. It seems that someone has jailbroken the device already.

Just days after its release to developers, Google’s Glass headset has already been hacked to give users full control of its Android operating system, according to Jay Freeman, a well-known Android and iOS developer who tested a known exploit for Android on Glass yesterday and announced his success on Twitter Friday afternoon. The “root” or “jailbreak” technique Freeman found would potentially remove any restrictions Google might place on Glass, though it’s not yet clear exactly what those restrictions might be in consumer versions of the device.