Google announced today that its face-mounted camera is now available to the general public to purchase. Previously only available to a limited pool of selected applicants, it’s still in beta mode, it’s still $1500 and you’re still an “Explorer” if you spring for it.

I’ll go full disclosure here and say that despite not always being an early adopter, I can generally appreciate the benefits of most emerging technology. But something about Google Glass rubs me the wrong way. I know that one of the selling points of the device is to keep a “face forward” view on life in contrast with constantly looking down at your phone to go about your daily routine. But really, will looking straight ahead vs down at your phone truly make a difference in human engagement? You’re still spaced out, you’re still distracted, you’re still not living in the moment. I know that Google’s business goals with glass do not truly revolve around increasing human connection; it just irks me that it’s even pitched as an attribute. It makes me think of this video that was floating around last week:


We’ve seen some legitimate privacy concerns arise with Google Glass (slowly) becoming more popular. Foes of the device argue that the ability for a Glass user to discretely capture video at any moment with no one being the wiser violates privacy – and people have taken their frustrations out on Google Glass Explorers.

Believe it or not, some argue that Google Glass wearers are subject to their own protected class designation. One woman in particular, Sarah Slocum claimed to have been the victim of a “hate crime” when a man, disgruntled after being taunted and filmed by Slocum in the wee hours of the morning, attempted to snatch the glasses off of her head.

Google does make some compelling cases for the practical uses of Google Glass. Their “Explorer Stories” page highlights a woman using Glass to document the endangered rhino population in Nepal, and a fire fighter in North Carolina who is using Google Glass to help improve rescues.

With Glass still in beta mode, and the price tag relatively outrageous, we’ll have to wait and see if the wearable computer eventually becomes as popular as its hand-held counterparts.

Is Google Glass on your “must have” list?