Google Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Glass product is barely in anyone’s hands yet and already the privacy implications of the revolutionary, wearable technology have stirred debate and policies everywhere from Congress to casinos. Google Glass combines a tiny screen with video recording capabilities and links them to the Internet via a tether with a compatible smartphone. Even Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone has already gotten in on some of the fun, despite strong competition between it and devices powered by Google’s Android OS.
“Criticisms are inevitably from people who are afraid of change or who have not figured out that there will be an adaptation of society to it,” said Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt recently. Schmidt was of course referring to the Glass’s ability to record anywhere at anytime and stream the video and pictures it takes to the Internet. The wearable, smart device is voice controlled and while it does give off a faint glow when its camera is rolling, that indication is far from satisfactory for many.
Eight U.S. Congress members sent Google CEO Larry Page a letter on Thursday, according to the Christian Science Monitor, asking about various privacy issues that exist, including the facial recognition features in Glass. While Google says no facial recognition feature currently exists in Glass, it says that is the possibility if it has “strong privacy protections in place” in the future. Theoretically, Google Glass could almost instantly pull up information on any face the user looks upon if Google or another software developer create the software to do so.
A business sector that already highly values privacy and has always taken a hard stance against consumer technology — particularly cameras — is the casino industry. Caesar’s Entertainment Corp. (CZR) has already banned Google Glass in its gambling areas and in showrooms. Other casinos are expected to follow as Glass slowly makes its way into the market. While Glass certainly poses a new threat to privacy, all of its functions can already be performed by a smartphone, though a smartphone has be in someone’s hand to record — Google Glass just listens for its wearer to tell it to start recording.
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