I Spy with My Google Glass Eye

If you haven’t yet met Google Glass, the new computing and communications tool from Google, you might be surprised at what it can do. Looking like a designer spectacles frame but without the lenses, Google Glass manages to tuck into a very small space: a miniature screen (just above your right eye), camera, microphone, ear speaker, processor, memory and battery. It can take photos and record videos, and it understands various voice commands, for example to search for information on Google (where else!) and display the results on the small screen close to your eye. Like most technology, it has a potential for both good and bad use – especially when it comes to business continuity.

Google Glass is hands free: the frame is supported by your ears and nose, like ordinary glasses. It can be used to make electronic documents and manuals visible via its screen, while you continue to focus your attention on the task at hand and manipulate a keyboard, mouse, machine, medical equipment, and so on. Some organisations are already using it for product installations in situations that require the fulltime use of both hands, or to call up building site plans and fire hydrant locations in the event of an emergency (a Google Glass application developed for a fire department).

So much for the positive side. Google Glass on the other hand also lends itself to activities such as industrial espionage. Because it’s currently not possible for an external observer to tell if Google Glass is switched on or not, wearers can discreetly monitor and film everything in their line of sight. If Google Glass takes off (Google has been making available on a trial basis so far), organisations may need to define and enforce a ‘Glass policy’, including delimiting areas where Google Glass must not be worn because of data confidentiality issues. For the moment, Google officially requires Glass customers to be US residents, although some units have made their way into other countries. Watch this space for more details as they become available.