Have you heard about Google Glass? I hadn’t until this morning when I came across a video of a woman getting very excited about it.
So having googled Google Glass, I now know that it’s a wearable computer with a head-mounted display that connects to, and interacts with, the internet using natural language voice commands. It doesn’t look all that different from normal spectacles (well, apart from lacking the lenses) although — with the current technology — people who wear prescription specs can’t use it. Anyway, it’s still in its developmental phase, although it’s hoped to be released later this year.
So far so good, no? It might be a good thing; it might not. Having continuous access to all that hands-free information just for the asking would be fantastic; but mightn’t it be hard to see and cause headaches? I’d need to know more and to talk to others who’d used it for a while before being tempted myself; but I am quite cautious when it comes to technology — unlike the woman in the video I mentioned to you in the first paragraph. She’s totally besotted with the whole Google Glass concept. Click here and watch her almost hysterical effusions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vaC4dkyc_Sc#
Now, I have no issue with Google asking for volunteers to test their new product — in fact, that sounds perfectly sensible. Consumer feedback is invaluable to manufacturers. But they expect those chosen to pay $1500 for the privilege? And silly women like this are getting all excited about it and planning on taking out loans to afford it? Seriously, if they wanted me to test out their new technology, they’d have to pay me (or at least prove to me why I’d be interested in doing it unpaid).
On top of that, the lucky few (well, 8,000) have to take time off work and incur further expenses in order to go in person to New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles to pick up the developer version. And as if that’s not bad enough, the terms and conditions of use/purchase state that ‘You may not resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person. If you resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person without Google’s authorization, Google reserves the right to deactivate the device, and neither you nor the unauthorized person using the device will be entitled to any refund, product support, or product warranty.’
So, not only are people being encouraged to get into debt to pay for this prototype toy, they’re also in danger of having nothing more than a piece of high-tech junk if Google decides they’re misusing it and summarily switches it off? Yeah, sounds like a really good deal… not.
Honestly, what next? Are pharmaceutical companies going to be making people pay to participate in drug trials? They could charge them a premium if their guinea pigs showed any unpleasant side effects, or refuse palliative care if it all went horribly wrong and the subjects had the temerity to discuss their symptoms with their GP. Market researchers, the type who stop pedestrians in the street and ask them to answer some questions about household products in exchange for a small sum of money, could change their patter from ‘Excuse me, would you mind answering a few questions on washing powder? We’ll give you ten pounds for your trouble’ to ‘Excuse me, would you mind answering a few questions on washing powder? It’ll only cost you ten pounds and, for an extra fiver, we’ll let you comment on fabric conditioner as well.’ As for laboratory animals — well, they might already pay with their lives for us to have glossier hair and longer, stronger finger nails — but the people who breed them should surely be offering the cosmetic industry at least a token sum for being granted the privilege of having their rabbits and monkeys and rats and cats tortured in this way.
And can I make someone pay me for the honour of being allowed to clean my house and do my ironing? Prospective Google Glass testers had to post a short (<50 words) message on Google+ or Twitter saying why they thought they should be selected. So, anyone out there who’d like to get scrubbing, tidying, hoovering, dusting, ironing, or anything else, just send me a brief message below, letting me know which task you’d like, why you think I should choose you do it, and — most importantly — how much you’ll pay me for letting you… Hmm… No? Not really gonna get rich that way, am I? Unlike Google — 8,000 people x $1,500 = a cool $12 million. I could use that. Sigh.
[Photo by Ars Electronica (http://www.flickr.com/photos/arselectronica/8570840931/).]