Google recently began shipping early "Explorer" versions of their innovative new Glass product to a community of early adopters they're calling "Glass Explorers". This release follows a long Google tradition of releasing beta versions of their products to the public before opening them up the general market. Glass is the first time a head mounted wearable computer has been launched in the mass market and boasts features such as voice recognition, a tiny display, a camera capable of taking photos and 720p HD videos.
Tech industry pundits such as Robert Scoble have already received, and are generating buzz with their reviews of the product. In his first collection of photos and video, it's easy to see how Glass could change the way we experience family photos, or watch old videos in the future. The idea of being able to see through your parents' eyes and hear their voice from their perspective, long after they're gone, is compelling. Still, this first person ease of recording is not without its detractors.
Several commenters on the Glass Google+ page have noted the privacy concerns of being able to take video or pictures inconspicuously. Many of the same fears were enumerated with the advent of smart phones, but because Glass does not have to be held conspicuously to record others, some are questioning whether it has a place in public. Others still have questioned whether pervasive wearable cameras will further erode our expectation of privacy in a public space. This may force the creation of new social contracts, or expectations with regard to wearable cameras and ubiquitous recording equipment. This happened in much the same way as society has to adjust to constant connectivity and the everpresent potential for a phone call, even in the most remote locations. Whether these concerns spark new laws, such as those governing the use of cars on roads, or social agreements like as "no texting in a movie theatre", remains to be seen.
The technology is coming and promises to change the way we think about our computing, privacy, and even more intimate access to information in the digital age.