The nerds are so excited. Our Internet-augmented, face-computer-wearing future is just over the horizon. Leading us there will be Google Glass, the first iteration of this particular sort of wearable, semi-immersive computing experience. If the product is successful, it will merely be the beginning.
The anticipation is understandable. If having Internet-connected computers in our pockets can transform our world, just imagine what wearing them on our faces will do. The prospect of everything from augmented reality games to futuristic surgery has people pumped for the days head. It's all very cool, but there's another side to Google Glass: the creepy factor.
For every exciting use case, it seems there's at least one social or policy-related concern. How will this impact privacy? Will we even have privacy in the future? When will we overcome the social stigma of face-mounted computers? Will we?
It will be some time before these questions shake out, a process that will continue as the technology evolves beyond Google's audacious first stab at it. In the meantime, here are five socially unacceptable things we expect some of Glass's earliest adopters to get into.
1. Surreptitiously Recording the Opposite Sex
Glass will likely be popular among doctors and academics, but there's another class of people just as eager to get their hands on it: Perverts.
Smartphones already allow us to shoot photos and videos of strangers in public, if we want. But there's a simple social barrier: it's difficult to discreetly aim a phone's camera at somebody. Take the phone out of the equation and you remove that problem as well.
Now, instead of awkwardly staring at people one find attractive, they can just take a photo or video. The potential examples here range from the relatively innocent to the highly unnerving, with most of them likely falling into the latter category.
Note: As one helpful commenter politely pointed out, the above heading presumes that people are only attracted to members of "the opposite sex." This is clearly not the case. We fully expect people from all walks of life to do creepy things with Google Glass, regardless of their sexual orientation.
2. Ignoring Your Family At Dinner
If you thought ignoring your loved ones in favor of scanning banal tweets was easy with your smartphone, just wait until it's connected to a heads-up display. But unlike our phones, Google Glass will at least create the illusion that you give a damn about the lives and feelings of those you profess to love the most.
3. Watching Porn — And Creating Your Own!
It goes without saying that if you give the population a device with a screen that connects to the Internet, they're going to watch videos of people having sex on it. If those WiFi-connected kitchen appliances and thermostats had screens, people would undoubtedly watch porn there too. With heads-up displays like Glass, it will be easier and more discreet than ever.
I couldn't find any research illustrating the extent to which smartphones have led to a rise in homemade porn, but there's no way there isn't one. Just look at Vine. The handful of Glass-wearers who do manage to get lucky will surely use the device to make filthy home movies. Just be careful with those unexpected incoming Hangout requests.
4. Google-Stalking People You Just Met
Even though they have the technology, Google isn't including facial recognition in Glass, because they know precisely what kind of weird shit you would do with it. That, and the massive privacy freakout that would ensue isn't something they (or anybody) are ready for.
Maybe someday. In the meantime, you'll have to manually Google the person you just met. You'll have to be inconspicuous with the voice commands, but with a Google-connected heads-up display Google-stalking new acquaintances has never been easier.
5. Alienating Your Friends At The Bar
The first person in your social circle to show up wearing Glass will certainly get a lot of "ooh's", "ahh's" and questions about how the device works. They'll wow their friends one-by-one as they allow them to test it out for themselves.
Over time, those very same friends, one-by-one, will disappear as they realize that this gadget addict is constantly watching YouTube videos, verbally Googling things to settle debates and generally being douchier than anyone can handle.
Original photo of jogger by Lululemon Athletica