as computers disappear new challenges come into view

Sometime this year, Google will usher in a new technological era when the company releases its first "wearable computer." It's called Glass. Glass is basically half a pair of eyeglasses with a camera that you wear, wirelessly connected to a smartphone.

Sometime this year, Google will usher in a new technological era when the company releases its first “wearable computer.” It’s called Glass.

Glass is basically half a pair of eyeglasses with a camera that you wear, wirelessly connected to a smartphone.

It alters its wearer’s relationship to reality by augmenting – or adding – information overlays to their field of view.

Imagine you’re walking through a zoo. Glass could display information about the animals as you look at them.

It also enables voice-controlled video collection, social media publishing, and even real-time internet broadcasting.

It will work with Android devices and iPhones.

Now I’m not saying that Glass is going to be anything great in and of itself.

It’s not even anything new, really. Canadian computer scientist and University of Toronto professor Steven Mann invented and was wearing a near-identical device called the EyeTap over 20 years ago.

The important thing about Glass is simply that it will be sold commercially on the mass market. Google is forcing the nascent technology of wearable computers into the mainstream.

And that’s huge, because wearable computers represent the next era of personal technology.

Computers and smartphones will literally disappear in coming years. They’ll still be there, but rather than carry them, we’ll wear them.

The concept of wearing technology is ages old.

Wristwatches, for example, have adorned millions of arms since the first one was delivered to the Queen of Naples in 1810.

Ten years ago, Microsoft tried to improve on that time-honoured concept when it foisted the first Internet-connected “smart” watch on the world (then forgot to market it).

Designers have built microphones into earrings and cameras into ties.

We’ve all seen those fancy dresses on TV that can display moving images.

Heck, there are little kids wearing Gangnam Style shirts with flashing disco lights sewn in.

But all these are really just technological parlour tricks with very niche appeal.

Google wants Glass to be common.

The company wants the Everyman to wear them and flood the internet with content from them.

After all, without mass adoption of Glass, how will the Master of Personal Data Mining collect enough valuable surveillance footage for profitable resale?

Which leads to the next major breakthrough that Google will make with Glass: a rat’s nest of new privacy, legal, ethical, moral, and health issues.

Maybe you think that smartphones already make it too quick and easy to publish material to Facebook and Twitter.

But it’s actually a fairly lengthy process. You have to pull the device out of your pocket, tap on an app, hold up the device to take a picture, and then do a bunch of thumb-tapping to fire the image off into the ether.

Imagine how much simpler that process will be for someone wearing a device with a camera strapped to her head that’s constantly connected to the Internet.

Faster than discretion can kick in, and before a subject can figure out what’s going on, a shot will be snapped and posted to Facebook for all to see.

Our entire social contract will have to be redrafted.

On the plus side, at least Glass can be visually perceived and understood to be a computer.

Don’t expect that to last long, though. Google is already at work on ways to condense the technology into a contact lens.

Others are working at sewing it into the fabric of garments.

Technology is being rendered invisible.

The aforementioned Steve Mann, really the grandfather of and authority on wearable computing, has been studying, writing about and teaching these issues for decades.

He’s actually been wearing his EyeTap device in one form or another constantly for over 30 years.

On top of everything else, his experiences have led him to understand there are also major health issues to consider.

A key concern is the design of the eyepiece itself in terms of how it collects images and delivers them to the eye. If improperly engineered, as he suggests Glass is, it can lead to brain damage.

But there’s also the risk of an extreme interpersonal reaction. Mann himself learned this lesson the hard way last summer when staff at a Paris McDonald’s physically assaulted him because he was wearing his EyeTap in the restaurant.

The social and moral impacts of smartphones remain unresolved among people, and courts continue to struggle with their legal implications.

But the technology itself has grown stagnant. One smartphone is much like another now. As Gertrude Stein might say: “A smartphone is a smartphone is a smartphone.”

Glass is Google’s major disruptor, designed to shake up industry and society simultaneously.

It’s our first major step into becoming cyborgs, where technology in general becomes a part of us, rather than an accessory.

You and I are not likely to ever own a Glass (especially not when you can expect its price tag to be somewhere north of $1,000).

But we all will be impacted by it in the coming years.

Andrew Robulack is a writer and consultant specializing in using technology and the Internet to communicate. Read his blog at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read