About a year ago a man was physically beaten and harassed in a McDonalds. The reason? He was wearing a 'cyborg eye' that could record anything and the employees said that this was not allowed.
Recently a woman was given a ticket for driving while wearing Google Glass. The ticket cited her for 'driving with a monitor in view' the reasoning being that Google Glass could be a distraction.
Some companies, including banks, have banned employees from using Google Glass and others have banned even customers from using it.
Google is only the first company to mass produce wearable computers. With the advent of the Samsung Galaxy Gear and the Pebble computer watch along with other companies sure to jump into the game (Apple anyone?) wearable computers are set to become the next big innovation in computing.
The issue with almost all major technological advances, is that our laws and social norms can't keep up. People are still complaining about folks who haven't figured out the social norms of cell phone use. People routinely text in the middle of conversations or take awkward photos at in-opportune times.
A Modest Proposal
What needs to happen is to figure out what the norms will be for wearable, always connected computers. A sort of preemptive strike of social and even legal rules that will help us get through this awkward transition stage.
Obvious ones include taking off Google Glass or similar devices when in a movie theater or while on a date. Interviews and funerals are probably off limits as well.
The problem with trying to put these kinds of rules together is that we have to focus on what people would consider important. In the past this has been pretty simple but things are getting complicated now. Is privacy important? With how people use Facebook these days it may not be as high as it was in the past. Is social engagement important? Is avoiding 'rudeness'?
How We Feel Matters but How Much?
It will take quite some time for people to feel comfortable with 'always connected' devices that can discreetly take photos or videos. One question is if the benefits outweigh the negatives.
A huge amount of crimes are being filmed these days by passer's by with cell phones. No need for security cameras when everyone in a building has a smart phone with a camera.
In 'Total Recall' (no relation to the movie) Gorden Bell (of Microsoft acclaim) found that by digitizing everything in his life he was able to reduce stress by a massive amount. Need a receipt of something you bought years ago? No problem, just do a quick search and it should pop right up. What he also found was that by taking photos of every moment of his life he could go back to precious unexpected moments that you wouldn't normally take photos of.
These moments could include a photo of your wife on the day you both met or a last photo of your beloved dog. It could also help with memory. Search for someone's name and you'll have all the information (including photos) of that person pop up when you are about to talk with them.
Not to mention that wearable computers could help with diet and health, it could easily track everything you eat and how much you exercise. It could also keep a log of your heart rate and body temperature, which could be invaluable to doctors.
Is it Worth it?
The benefits are clearly amazing, but the question must be raised of the validity. People will still feel uncomfortable knowing they could be being recorded at all times when they leave their home. There are no answers at the moment, but these are things we need to be looking towards as soon as possible so we can avoid people getting hurt or arrested because of misunderstandings.
What do you think are some social rules we should create for wearable computers?