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The Circle Book Review

Book Review
The Circle
By Dave Eggers
491 pages. Alfred A. Knopf/McSweeney’s Books. $27.95

Review by Allen Earle

I have a Facebook account. I’ve looked at it occasionally, posted practically nothing on it, and from time to time look at a picture posted by an acquaintance, or something “interesting” shared by a connection. I have never tweeted. (At my age, it takes more characters for me to say “hello” than Twitter permits me.) Needless to add that like many people of my generation (and yes, I’m a Boomer), I don’t “follow” anyone or anything.

Dave Egger’s novel The Circle describes a world that I’m just now really beginning to see and understand – but not like very much. It’s a very odd thing to find oneself in a setting that appears both very true-to-life, and at the same time utterly dystopian. And frankly, it’s just as hard to figure out whether Eggers’ intended world is one or the other.

“The Circle” of the title is the name of a company which seems to be an amalgam of Apple, Google, Microsoft, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and who knows what else. (Perhaps LinkedIn is too focused to have merited inclusion?) And The Circle is huge – over a billion customers and growing, each and every one with a single identity (“TruYou”). And each and every user can access everything in digital space to which The Circle has access.

The newest employee in this vast organization is Mae, who from the get-go thinks, “My God, [i]t’s heaven.” Mae starts as a kind of help-desk intern, answering clients’ questions and resolving their issues, always striving for service ratings measuring within a point or two of 100 (out of 100), and providing feedback on everything (“smile,” “frown” or “meh”). Her frenzied participation in everything begins making her increasingly popular and followed by The Circle clientelle. As we progress through Mae’s career in The Circle, we learn more and more about the leaders of this behemoth – the “Gang of 40” – and their focus (as befitting an organization controlling 90% of all data searches on earth) on increasing information available to everyone on the planet, to making everything – individuals, corporations, governments – transparently available to all.

And here is where the dystopian view creeps in. If, as the company’s motto affirms, “All that happens must be known,” then what happens to privacy? Who is the “private person” when everything in their life (with the exception of brief bathroom breaks) is under the possible scrutiny of all the other subscribers of The Circle?

And Mae certainly finds this out! Mae’s performance isn’t always perfect, but her willingness to open up publically about “what went wrong” leads to Mae herself helping to devise some of The Circle’s more important (and Orwellian) maxims: “Secrets are lies,” “Sharing is caring” and “Privacy is theft.” Mae sees, through her own experiences, much of the downside of this constant, but seems unable to acknowledge what she really ought to see. Rather, after one serious infraction against the “everything that happens must be known” rule (she takes a secret kayak trip off-camera), she commits to The Circle to “going transparent;” to making her life totally visible to all the membership of The Circle, except for brief bathroom breaks. (Yes, this leads to a little toilet humour – and sex.)

The reader wonders, as we move along, whether Mae will eventually realize the dangers of what’s going on and help free the world of it due to her immense popularity, or if she will commit the world to a 1984-like “Big Brotherhood.” I’ll avoid the spoiler, here.

A few days ago, the physicist Steven Hawking, commenting on the Artificial Intelligence that has speeded up the translation of his thoughts to vocalization, opined that there may well come a time when technology is so advanced – when AI can create its own advanced versions of itself while humans are condemned to wait upon the tediously slow process of evolution – that humanity might be rendered superfluous.

Are our technologies, and our increasing dependence and reliance upon (and perhaps even addiction to) them, leading us to a place where we cease to be humans capable of behaving like humans? Is the human mind capable of living sanely in a world in which that mind has no private place of its own? Those seem to me to be some of the questions that Eggers is asking, although I’m not sure he’s answered them. In a few plodding sections of the novel, Mae’s family and ex-boyfriend, the tedious Mercer, provide us with rather trite set speeches that say, “no.”

What frightened this reader most, though, was the simple recognition that in many ways, almost everything described in The Circleis happening today – or will happen very, very soon. But perhaps I ought to keep my thoughts on that eventuality private?


 allen

Allen Earle is a long-time IT techie, developer and manager, who presently takes good care of all of P4Digital’s contractors in the field, as well as keeping a sharp eye on our production stats. An insatiable reader, who also enjoys writing, he is P4Digital’s authority on all things Shakespeare.

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Is Google being Undone?

That is a bit of a misnomer – Google is not really being undone, but there is a very real chance it could be unbundled in Europe by early next week.

What does Unbundled mean?

In this context, unbundling refers to the Google search engine being separated from its other commercial services.

Think of it this way; Google has its fingers in a lot of pies – 90% of the search market in Europe alone to be exact. These ‘pies’ include:

  • Maker of Android – the operating system on many smartphones
  • Enterprise services
  • Mapping
  • Chrome Web browser (it’s the one I use as well!)

A lot of Google’s services are integrated together. Do you use Android? Well, you need a Google account (Gmail) to use it. Don’t worry though, the app is preloaded onto the phone and programmed to run on Google’s services.

There is evidence to suggest that Google uses its search engine to give an advantage to their commercial products.

How is this happening?

Last week, the European Parliament voted in favour of proposals to break up Google.

This proposal wants to separate Google’s search operations from the rest of the company. That would in theory, eliminate or greatly reduce any unfair advantage Google may have.

Now these proposals, regardless of the outcome, don’t have the power to break up Google itself. They will work in a more round-a-bout fashion – if they pass, the motion would apply pressure on the European Commission, which in term sets the region’s legislative agenda.

 

Why can’t the European Commission just investigate Google on its own? Well, at this time it is showing no interest in examining Google’s competitive practice, so the roundabout method is necessary.

So, this headline-grabbing vote is not binding, but politicians are increasingly sure that they will successfully put an end to Google’s perceived monopoly.

Consequences

If this vote is approved, it will probably have further reaching consequences than just unbundling Google.

A precedent will have been set in Europe. As our CEO here at Planet4IT always likes to say, a lot of law is built around precedent setting.

If the motion passes, the European Commission will get a green light to ask questions of Google. From that, they can lodge antitrust investigations that could, in turn, force Google to change how it does business in Europe.

In short, the British government will be given more control and power over Google. And if Britain gets that kind of power, a precedent will be set for other countries to follow in its example.

Why vote at all?

We all know a little competition is healthy, right? Well, only if the game isn’t fixed. What’s the point of racing if you know the other competitors are getting unfair advantages and will probably win?

That’s what Google’s competition is saying. In 2010, they alleged that Google was favouring its own products and services over those of rivals in search results.

What does that mean? Well, if you search ‘smartphone’ in Google, the search results would have all the Android phones as the top results (Google’s own smartphone) while all the competitors, (Blackberry, Apple, etc.) would be much lower in the results. A higher number of people would click the top results and never even see the competition pages near the bottom.

The competitors say this isn’t fair – and European officials agree.

The European Commission has been investigating Google since these complaints were first made in 2010. A proposed settlement was reached in February of this year, under which Google agreed to display search results for its own services the same way it does for rival companies. Unfortunately, this settlement was not really enforced and didn’t require Google to pay a fine or change its corporate structure. And it didn’t spread to Google’s other commercial search engines – like YouTube or Google shopping.

In theory, this unbundling would be enforceable, and prevent Google and its other commercial services from benefiting from the company’s dominance in search.

Not everyone is happy

Obviously Google’s competition is happy with this decision, but that joy doesn’t seem to reach us in North America.

The United States especially doesn’t like this proposal.

The US Mission to the European Union responded to news with a disapproving tone.

Many in America seem to believe the neutrality of Google and other search engines in regards to their commercial endeavours is already assured under existing EU competition law.

Guenther Oettinge, European commissioner for Digital affairs,  was quoted last week as saying there would be “no break-up and no expropriation”, claiming these were not appropriate tools for a free market economy.

The ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats) group of parties, also voted against this resolution, stating that it was not the role of the European Parliament to “interfere” with individual businesses.

“Parliament should not be engaging in anti-Google resolutions, inspired by a heavy lobby of Google competitors or by anti-free market ideology, but ensure fair competition and consumer choice,” the group said.

Google X

Forget Area 51, the new hot conspiracy topic belongs to Google.

Have you heard of Google X?

Google X is a semi-secret facility run by Google. It is dedicated to making major technological advancements.

This is the division that has been experimenting and testing those self driving cars we’ve been hearing so much about.

 

early-vehicle-lores

 

Their experiments and innovations don’t stop there.  Google X is tackling everything from augmented reality to a cure for cancer.

A Brief History

The rumour is that Google X was born from a dare. If it weren’t for the robo-cars, it might have never been born.

The lab’s conceptual origins reach back to 2005, when Chief Executive Officer Larry Page met the Stanford computer scientist Sebastian Thrun at the Darpa Grand Challenge.

Thrun’s team of graduate students was competing to send an autonomous vehicle through a 7-mile obstacle course in the Mojave Desert. The two men shared passion for technology and the potential of  Artifical Intelligence. They quickly became friends.

Two years after the competition, Page convinced Thrun and several of his students to team up to help create what would eventually become Google Maps.

Although the idea began there, Google X wouldn’t truly be born until 2010 when the company earnestly started designing the self-driving car.

What’s in a name?

 

Since then it has mostly remained hidden from view.

Today, it styles itself as the heir to the classic research lab – evolved versions of the facilities that created the innovations of their times.

Think NASA 2.0.

A lot of companies in the west have cut down on research funding since the 2008 financial crisis. Big, innovative projects that involve no immediate payout are considered too high risk for many companies that are still hurting from the recession. Google X suffers no such fears or restrictions.

Anything-which-is-a-huge

Location Location Location

Regardless of all the strange experiments rumoured to be going on behind their closed doors, the official building where Google X exists is remarkably ordinary. It occupies a pair of  red buildings about half a mile from Google’s main buildings.  It has no official website – which is understandable! Given all of the top secret projects, what would they post there?

Of course, these are just the ‘official’ headquarters. Google has many other secret locations that are hidden from view, or filed through dummy cooperations.

In 2013 it was revealed that Google has purchased four barges. They are all registered under the name By and Large. And yes, that is the name of the evil corporation from the Wall-E movie that destroyed the planet.

 

250px-BnL

 

Then, last week Google signed a 60 year lease on a former Navy dirigible hanger in Silicon Valley. They will pay 1.16 billion dollars for the 350,000 sure foot structure called Hangar One.

297811main_226_w_ACD99-0136-23

The theory goes that a Google subsidiary, Plantary Ventures LLC, will use the spot for research and development of technologies related to space and aviation, assembly and testing on the areas of space exploration and aviation robotics. It will also work with other emerging technologies.

Projects

Google has some unbelievable projects. In fact, it prides itself on  working on things that have a slim chance of succeeding. Google calls these endeavours Moonshots.

Moonshots-Googles-name

Generally speaking, there are three criteria that X projects share. All must address a problem that affects millions—or better yet, billions—of people. All must utilize a radical solution that at least in part resembles science fiction. And all must use technologies that are now (or very nearly) obtainable.

All Google X projects start with the Rapid Evaluation team, Rapid Eval for short.

They choose ideas and test out the most promising ones by doing everything possible to make them fail. These are the steps:

  1. Problem identified
  2. Idea developed
  3. Solution tested
  4. Prototype built
  5. Product introduced

As of 2014  there have been eight projects listed as under construction at Google. These include:

  • Self Driving Cars
    • Cars that essentially drive themselves. These are already being tested on many roadways in Canada and throughout the world.  Futurists are predicting that these vehicles will be the norm by 2030.
  • Project Wing – Drone Delivery
    • The original concept behind Project Wing — which has been in development for more than two years — was to deliver defibrillators to heart attack sufferers within two minutes. Due to integration problems with the 911 infrastructure, Google has shifted the project to the much more general problem of same-day deliveries, disaster relief, and generally delivering to places that couriers cannot reach.
  • Google Glass
    • Check out our previous blog post about it HERE.
  • Contact Lenses that monitor glucose in tears
    • A smart contact lens that’s built to measure glucose levels in tears by using a wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded in contact lens material. This project is a long way away from being completed.
  • Project Loon
    • Balloon powered internet for everyone! Project Loon balloons float in the stratosphere, twice as high as airplanes and the weather. People can connect to the balloon network using a special Internet antenna attached to their building. The signal bounces from this antenna up to the balloon network.
  • Makani Power
    • An Airborne wind power company.
    • Makani is developing an energy kite that generates more energy at lower cost than conventional wind systems. The kite uses less material and accesses more consistent wind at higher altitudes.
  • Lift Labs
    • A tremor cancelling spoon for Parkinson’s patients.

It is worth noting that X’s moonshots are not as purely altruistic as Google likes to make them sound. While self-driving cars will save lives they will also free up drivers to use the internet and Google. Wi-Fi balloons could result in a billion more Google users.

 

Failure

Even Google X isn’t perfect. It has had its share of spectacular failures.

They may not be readily discussed, but Astro Teller, the head of Google X, is starting to shed some light on these hidden misnomers.

  • Space elevator – the cost and potential dangers of this far outweighed the benefits.
  • Hoverboard – this was actually invented by another company called Kickstarter after Google X gave up on it
  • Teleportation- this project was abandoned when it was found to break the laws of physics

 

 

 

A Pirates Life for No One

It might be the end of the road for all the pirates out there.

Let’s face it, most of us can attest to digitally pirating something in our lives. Whether it was an ill-gotten song when we were kids, to downloading the newest episode of Game of Thrones, the odds are we’ve all been guilty of this behaviour at some point.

Of course, all of us realized that this was wrong. I’m sure all of our readers are honest and upstanding citizens and don’t use products that have been illegally downloaded.

Right?

Well, things are about to get a lot harder for those individuals who continue to download all manner of things illegally from the Internet. At least if they use Google.

Google and Piracy

Google doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to online piracy. They’ve been blasted time and time again by Hollywood and other content owners for not doing enough to prevent links to pirated material from showing up in its search results.

What does online piracy mean exactly?

Now, Google hasn’t been ignoring online privacy by any means.

In 2012, they announced they’d demote the ranking of websites that received a large number of DMCA notices in their search results.

For many, this wasn’t enough. Many music and film rights holders accused Google of not doing enough to tackle copyright infringement.

In fact, an open letter sent mid-September to the European competition commissioner,  News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson branded the company a “platform for piracy and the spread of malicious networks.”

By the Numbers

Now, it can be difficult to put online piracy into perspective to understand why so many are so upset. The internet is a huge beast, using up as much energy as any of the larger countries out there. So how can anyone hope to understand how much of its use is illegal?

Check out these statistics to try to wrap your head around it.

  • According to a survey of Spain, 1 in 2 internet users there download illegal content.
  • More than 1 million illegal downloads of the Game of Thrones season four premiere were recorded in just half a day
  • The US economy loses $12.5 billion in revenue each year to it
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was illegally downloaded more than 8 million times.
  • 42 percent of all computer software used around the world in 2010 was pirated.
  • More than 146 million visits were logged everyday at piracy sites in 2011.

Now that is a huge amount of traffic.

Google’s new front in the Piracy Battle.

In defence to these claims, Google published an updated How Google Fights Privacy report last week. This report explains how the search engine fights piracy across its services. It lists all the official numbers and developments.

Katherine Oyama is the Senior Copyright Policy Counsel. She claims that the Google has been testing many initiatives to combat privacy.

Currently, they are trying out new ad formats in their search results. These results mostly target searches related to music and movies. These ads will direct people to legitimate sources of media, rather than piracy sites.

For the searches for movies that include terms such as ‘download’, ‘free’, or ‘watch’, Google will list sources like Google Play, Amazon and Netflix.

These initiatives are currently only operational in the United States. Google has plans to spread it to the rest of the world.

Google has also developed an improved DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) demotion signal in Search.

What that means is that illegal search results (torrents or downloads) will no longer be at the top of the search page results. Instead they will be on later pages, and near the bottom of those pages. Legitimate, legal sites like Amazon or Google will instead take the top spots.

In addition to this search result demotion, Google is also targeting the searches themselves. More terms are being removed from Google auto-complete, based on legitimate DMCA removal notices.

Despite all these policies and initiatives, Google claims that the best way to battle piracy is for content owners to distribute their works via legitimate digital services.

Google maintains that the best way to battle piracy is for content owners to distribute their works via legitimate digital services.

“As services ranging from Netflix to Spotify to iTunes have demonstrated, the best way to combat piracy is with better and more convenient legitimate services. The right combination of price, convenience and inventory will do far more to reduce piracy than enforcement can.” — How Google Fights Privacy report

 

Repercussions

Updates began rolling out globally last week.

Sites like rapidgator.net, filestube.com and dilandau.eu, each of which has received at least 11 million individual take down requests, will likely be the first targetted.

It will be interesting to see how these new copyright initiatives will affect legimate sources of creative art. There is a bevy of original art on the internet based off of other people’s creations.

Such as this Game of Thrones piece of fanart by artist Gigei deviantart.com

It certainly looks like Winter is Coming for all the Pirates out there!

It knows your face!

I remember going to see Minority Report when I was in high school. The movie was lacklustre, but one thing stuck out in my mind – the custom advertisements that reacted to Tom Cruise’s eyes.

Tom Cruise in Minority Report

For those of you who don’t remember or skipped the movie, the premise was this: advertisements (or billboards in this case) would scan Tom Cruise’s eyes as he walked by to identify him. After identification, these ads would give custom recommendations to our hero based on his data and previous purchases.

Futurist real time data at its finest.

However, headlines in recent weeks have been covering stories that seem like they could have be ripped straight from this dis-utopian world.

Real time data and facial recognition are no longer science fiction- they have become science fact.

What is it?

An individual’s face can be as unique as a fingerprint. It might even be more reliable, as a face won’t smudge or streak on surfaces.

Every face has numerous, unique features. There are the surface identifiers, like scars or skin tone, but there are also deeper, structural landmarks. These include:

  • Distance between the eyes
  • Width of the nose
  • Depth of the eye sockets
  • The shape of the cheekbones
  • The length of the jaw line

Most of us can recognize our friends and family by a quick glance at their faces. It happens so quickly most of us don’t even think about it. (Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but for the sake of length we’re going to skip them for now).

What Facial Recognition technology does is try to give that ability to a computer or algorithm.

Beginnings

As with most innovations we discuss on this blog, this isn’t a new idea.

It began in the mid 1960s. Scientists began to work on using computers to recognize human faces. Since those first tentative steps, the technology has come a long way.

Until recently, facial recognition software used a 2D image database to identify individuals.

Image courtesy of BBC.co.uk

For this to work, the subject needed to be looking directly at the camera. There could be little variance in light or facial expression between the database image, and the one that was being identified.

Obviously, very few pictures met this strict criteria, so facial recognition failed more often than it succeeded.

But technology never truly remains stagnant, and that’s doubly so in the digital revolution.

Facial recognition technology just made the leap from 2D to 3D. New software uses a 3D model, which allows for much looser criteria when comparing photos.

Image courtesy of Smithsonian.com

3D software uses the distinctive features of a face – the eyes, nose, and bone structure – to identify the subject.

Instead of relying on lighting or expression, this new technology relies on the structure of the face itself. It makes the software more reliable and less fallible.

Robocop?

Although these police divisions are not being led by Tom Cruise, law enforcement agencies the world over are using this technology to their advantage.

FBI

Take the FBI for example. They have just finished developing the Next Generation Identification System.

This system is now fully operational and is being used.

The FBI announced two services last fall that completed the system.

  • Rap Back allows officials to receive “ongoing status notifications” about reported criminal history of people “in positions of trust, such as schoolteachers.”
  • Interstate Photo System. This is the big one. This is a facial-recognition program that allows law-enforcement to cross-reference photographic images with criminal databases in real time.

In short, the Interstate Photo System lets the FBI use facial recognition.

Privacy groups don’t like The Next Generation Identification system for obvious reasons. They have repeated time and time again that this system ignores privacy laws.

They claim the lack of oversight raises serious civil liberty and privacy concerns.

Also, This system is largely untested. A report from 2010 found that the Interstate Photo System could potentially fail one in every five times it was used. That could lead to a lot of false positives. As it stands, that is a rate of failure higher than traditional fingerprinting – smudges and all.

Dubai

Dubai is another example of facial recognition being used by law enforcement. That Dubai is using this highly experimental technology should come as so surprise – this is a culture where the police use top of the line sports cars to keep up with the rich population.

Reports indicate  they have moved one step closer to achieving real time facial recognition by adding it to Google Glass.

Did I mention that the Dubai police department will get to use Google Glass? I hope they don’t have to buy their own uniforms!

glass1

According to a Dubai Police representative,  this software allows police to identify criminals’ faces and alert the detective through the glasses.

This initiative will be rolled out in two phases.

  • In the first phase, the technology will be used to fight traffic violations and any other vehicular offences.
  • In the second phase, the police Detectives will get a chance to use the wearables in their day to day crime solving business.

The New York City police department is also testing this. They began using Google Glass at the beginning of 2014, but have not yet posted the results of their tests.

Science fiction or  science fact?

This technology has far reaching implications as well. It is becoming present in many different companies – not just law enforcement. Check out some of the ways that this technology is being used by businesses right now!

Mastercard

Mastercard claims it has completed a “successful” facial recognition payments trial.

Mastercard tested a beta mobile app on over 140 000 transactions. These tests involved Mastercard employees from around the world using both iOS and Android devices.

 

Barcelona

Every laugh at the Teatrenu comedy club in Barcelona will cost you 0.30 euros, with a price cap of 24 euros.

Stand-up idea: A comedy club in Barcelona is betting you can't, and it is even basing its ticket prices on how often comedians can make its audience laugh

That’s right! Facial recognotion is being used to charger per laugh at this comedy club. The software is installed on the back of the seat in front of the customer.

The project was developed to combat falling audience numbers.

Partnering with advertising agency The Cyranos McCann, the experiment was a reaction to increased government taxes on theatre tickets, which in turn led to drops in audience numbers.

The results of the experiment have so far proved positive with ticket prices up by 6 euros, according to the theatre.

The system was so successful, it is now being copied in other theatres around Spain.

A number of people have tried, and reportedly failed, to sit through a comedy show without laughing in an attempt to get a free ticket.

Through Rose Tinted Google Glasses

Google’s latest and hottest gadget needs little introduction, but what do you really know about the controversial Google Glass?

,By Taeytan (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo By Taeytan (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Google Glass, in its simplest form, is a pair of very advanced eyeglasses.

It’s an augmented reality gadget. They are wearable, voice-controlled devices that display information directly into its user’s field of vision.

Augmented-Reality-a

It was first announced by Google X (Googles Special projects division) in 2012 under the code name ‘Project Glass.’ The company made the device available to testers and developers in early 2013.

It is also worth noting here that Google X is the department that is working on driverless cars, and high-altitude wireless balloons to bring internet to remote and rural areas.

 

745px-Google's_Lexus_RX_450h_Self-Driving_Car

 By Driving_Google_Self-Driving_Car.jpg: Steve Jurvetson derivative work: Mariordo [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

BUT WHAT IS GOOGLE GLASS?

Google Glass is, like we said, an augmented reality device. It uses visual, audio and location based data to provide information that is relevant to you at that time.

For example, a user could walk into an airport and immediately receive flight status information through the Google Glass display. Or, a user could walk into a grocery store and instantly get a notification about what items are on sale.

You thought being reachable through your smartphone all the time was bad? Wait until you’re plugged in right through your eyes!

 

TECH SPECS

Google Glass is packed with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, speakers, a camera, microphone, touchpad and  a device that detects head-tilts. Then there’s the main piece, a tiny screen about the size of your finger that shows you all the information you need at eye level.

 

Let’s break it down.

 

  • -The glasses don’t really have lenses.  Instead, they have a battery powered heads up display (HUD) that sits just above the right eye. Think of a smartphone screen built into a pair of glasses.
  • -This HUD display has a 640×360 pixel resolution. Google claims this is equivalent to looking at a 25-inch High definition TV from about 8 feet away.
  • -The built-in camera is the equivalent of the iPhone 4 camera. It is a 5-mega-pixel unit with 720p video capture.
  • -Audio is handled with bone conduction transducer. In other words, instead of having actual headphones, Google Glass sends the audio vibrations directly through the small bones in your ear, which you then hear as sound.
  • -There is 16GB of storage space. Only 12GB of this is usable, as 4GB is presumably taken up by the actual Google Glass Software.
  • -The device is fully synced with Google’s cloud storage.

Google-Now-is-an

  • -Google Now is part of Google Glass.  Google Now is voice recognition software that can understand what you say and do as you request.
  • -Adjustable nose pads and a durable frame that fits any face
  • -Google Glass can be connected through both Wifi and Bluetooth
  • -One full day of battery use. However, some features like Hangouts and video recording will drain the battery faster.
  • -There is an included Micro USB cable and charger
  • -Google Glass IS NOT compatible with regular glasses. If you need prescription glasses, you have to buy them from Google. This is $225 on top of the regular price of Google Glass.

 

HOW CAN YOU USE IT?

There has been lots of talk about Google Glass in media. If anything, it has been all but dominating the Newsfeeds since the product was announced back in 2012.

These theories and technical specs are all well and good, but HOW can you use what is essentially a smartphone attached to your face?

  • Glass has a voice input and recognition system. The built-in microphone combined with Google Now connects you directly to the search engine.
  • You activate Google Now by saying “Okay Glass” then send a command or question. Tilting your head up does the same thing.
  • Real time photo taking. Just say, “Take a Photo” and your view at the moment is captured, hands-free.
  • Real time Video Taking. You can take videos of every action you perform, all hands free. Whether it’s real-life tutorials, amazing events or extreme sports-nearly anything can be recorded quickly and easily.
  • You can have digital meetings with Google Glass. Using Google Hangouts, you can have group conferences and meetings without being confined to a desk. GOOGLE JUST ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY THAT THEY ARE WITHDRAWING VIDEO CALLS AS A FEATURE AT THIS TIME. This was announced hours before the one day sale. Google claims that video calling will be available at a date in the future.
  •  You can dictate text messages, attach videos and pictures and send data just by using the voice feature. No hands required, and you don’t have to remove your phone from your pocket.
  • Since there is a built in GPS chip, Google Glass can help you navigate without having to look at a smartphone or a GPS device. This applies whether your driving, walking through a town, or hiking through the countryside.
  • Live information is shown to you in real-time. Since Google Now can keep track of when you’re leaving home or doing errands, it can also easily send you recipes and warn you of bad traffic before you get caught in it. Can’t watch the big game? – Google Now will let you know the new scores and team updates.

Unfortunately, Google glass will be dependent on WiFi or mobile connectivity to work. If you are in a dead-zone, you are out of luck.

However, it will work with both Android and Apples Phones.

 

money

When can you buy it?

Well – you can’t, not really. Google Glass is very much a prototype, even after eight months of being in the hands and on the faces of tens of thousands of beta testers.

The release date itself has been delayed a few times now (it was originally suppose to be released in late 2013). The current theory is around the end of 2014 Google Glass will be available to the public full time.

However, yesterday you had the chance to join the ranks of the Google Glass Explorers, as Google Glass for one day only at a price of $1500.

Google-Glass-Explorers

Who is using it?

It’s not just the life of the average person that Google Glass is looking to change. There are applications for it in a wide variety of areas, some most people haven’t even thought about. Here are some groups that are already beta testing Google Glass:

The U.S. Air Force’s “BATMAN” (Battlefield Air Targeting Man-Aided Knowledge) research team at Write Patterson Airforce Base in Ohio. They are beta-testing Google Glass for possible use on the battlefield. It is one of the military’s most distinguished research and development groups.

New York City’s Police Departments massive and controversial intelligence and analytics unit is also evaluating whether Google Glass is a decent fit for terror investigations, and routine street patrol purposes.

Virgin Atlantic airways is already beta testing the glasses to see if it will improve customer relations with their clients.

QR-Code-a

A hospital in Boston has begun using Google Glass along with QR code technology to help them keep track of patients. Instead of using a clipboard, they scan a patients QR code and instantly know everything they need to about them through the display.

Creepy?

 

Google Glass is potentially one of the most disruptive pieces of technology to emerge in recent years. It’s also a constant issue in legal circles, both here and in the US.

Glasshole-is-slang-forWhat are the legal ramifications of wearing them while driving? The privacy concerns if they are worn in a bathroom? What about disruptiveness in the workforce or the classroom? The legal fallouts from this device are still not fully known or examined. Are we potentially looking at another phone tapping scandal?

Google has actually released its definitive guide on how NOT to creep people out on the street when using Google glass. Some of the tips it shares are:

  • -Do NOT stand alone in the corner of a room staring at people while recording them.
  • -Do NOT expect to be ignored
  • -Do NOT glass out (use Glass for extended periods of time)

There are privacy issues, mocking, and a shocking rise in cases of people having the glasses ripped right off of their faces and destroyed.  Article here.

In short, the idea of individuals fixing tiny computers to their eyes and staring off into space are making some people uncomfortable.

According to Sarah Rotman Epps, a Tech analyst at Forrester Research, this is why Google is rolling out Glass in slow stages. To give people, and the world, time to adjust.

Google Glass will be here eventually either way. Whether the world will be ready for it remains to be seen.