To Avoid Its A-Hole Problem, Google Glass Needs an Off Mode
Gawker's Adrian Chen put his finger on the prime problem with Google Glass, in succinct words suitable to Gawker. (Warning: incoming potty language.) This:
Wearing Google Glass is functionally the same as living with a smart phone held constantly at eye-level... If you come up to me with a smartphone held at eye level and demand that I interact with you like you're not being an asshole, you are an asshole. You are demanding social interaction on your wholly weird and unsettling terms. This does not change if the smartphone is tiny and strapped to your eye and made by Google. In fact, you thinking that this excuses your asshole behavior just makes you that much more of an asshole.
And I think he's right. We have social rules around cellphones for just this reason: Don't use your phone while you're in a theater. During dinner or a meeting, turn your phone upside down, so people know you have their full attention. Don't take cellphone photos of folks without their permission. And so on. Trouble with Google Glass is, it's on your face, making it quite difficult to apply similar rules to this new technology.
However, perhaps unlike Chen, I think this problem is fairly easily fixable by Google Glass developers themselves:
Give Glass an Off Mode. That is, a manual "off" switch that visibly and prominently shows people around you when you're not using Glass. I say "manual" because I think it should be a physical toggle, so people can actually see you move your hand up to go into that mode. I say "visibly and prominently", because people then need to be continually reassured when you're not using Glass, and when you are. Most obvious solution: A small LED light that shines red, when Glass is off, and green, when Glass is on. (It's possible a feature like this already exists or has been announced as upcoming, but I haven't seen it mentioned in any of the coverage.)
Do that, and I'd say most of Glass' asshole problem is fixed. Then again, that doesn't necessarily solve the "You look like a goddamn geek" conundrum.
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