Could Google Glass Arm Activists in the Digital World?

The company is working with Italian eyewear maker Luxottica, owner of Ray-Ban and Oakley, to produce and sell more appealing versions of Glass down the road. Google has also written a guide on how not to be a “glasshole” by respecting other people’s privacy and avoiding being “creepy and rude.”

Ian Spencer, partner and chief technology officer for Red Edge, a firm that designs and develops advocacy websites, apps, and ads, said that Glass has both its pros and cons compared to mobile phones.

“Glass is sort of an extension of mobile phones…the hardware inside of it is basically the same as in cellphones,” Spencer said. “The biggest advantage over a phone is that it is always available within your vision. A phone buzzes, you pull it up, you look at it – it isn’t in your field of vision.”

Red Edge has developed an app that provides users with information about a government agency when they are near a federal building in Washington. The “augmented advocacy” app also provides users with information cards, including the head of the organization, the taxpayer money spent on the department, and contact information for the agency.

“We’re looking for opportunities to make normal folks more aware of issues that are arising and giving them the power to take action right there and then,” Spencer said.

Peter Tariche, an applications developer at Generation Opportunity, said Glass could be also used to advance privacy. He said a company in Amsterdam has built an app that can detect surveillance cameras and map other Glass users in the area.

“There’s going to be a lot of policy questions…on how we can make sure that this technology can continue to move forward and make humanity better but at the same time make sure that legislators aren’t stopping innovators from doing that,” Tariche said.

For now, Google Glass is limited by both its hardware and software. Spencer said Glass has several limitations: the device has a limited battery life, it requires to be tethered to a network for Internet access, and it looks “silly or off-putting” to some people.

Despite its potential, Spencer said he would not recommend buying the current version of Glass because it is not practical for the average user.

“Glass is Sputnik. It is something that is not actually useful,” he said. “Future iterations that are coming down the pipeline very quickly will truly make it a transformative technology.”