If you hang around Silicon Valley or go to tech conferences you’re bound to see someone wearing an eye glass frame with a tiny little monitor above their right eye. That’s Google GOOG +0.97% Glass, Google’s experiment in wearable, ubiquitous computing.
But unless you’re one of the 2,000 developers who got an early look or among the 8,000 “explorers” who won the right to pay $1,500 to buy a prototype, you probably haven’t experienced Glass.
But if you have questions, Google has answers. The company just posted a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) to explain what Glass is, how it works and how Google is “all about keeping your information safe, secure and always available when you want it.” That section, undoubtedly, is in response to widespread concerns from law makers and others about the privacy and security implications of Google Glass.
Like a 25-inch TV set
Google says that looking through glass is like “a lot like a 25 inch color TV floating about 8 feet in front of you,” and that glass weighs 40 grams, “about the weight of a pair of sunglasses.” It has 16 GB of flash memory, but that’s about all the tech specs they were willing to disclose (Engadget and Gizmodo have tear down reports with lots of details).
Privacy and security
Given the amount of scrutiny Google is under from Congress, the press and advocacy groups, the company is naturally a bit defensive when it comes to issues of privacy and security. The company said that “we give you control over the information you share with Google.” Pictures and videos taken with Glass “will be added to your private Instant Upload album on Google+ but won’t be shared with anyone until you choose to do so.”
Google points out that Glass isn’t taking pictures or video “all the time” and that default video clips are 10 seconds. The battery dies after about 45 minutes of video recording.
And, in response to the concerns that Glass is spying on others, Google said, “We have built explicit signals in Glass to make others aware of what’s happening.” The screen is illuminated when it’s in use, including taking a picture or recording a video.
Google said in the FAQ that it plans to make Glass available to a “wider group of consumers” later this year with “even broader availability” next year.
Disclosure: Larry Magid is co-director of ConnectSafely.org, a non-profit Internet safety organization that receives financial support from Google and other technology companies.