Yesterday a car did a burn-out in my street. It was noisy and disruptive and smelly and offensive.

I could see the car doing it. I could read the registration number. And I thought: if I was wearing Google Glasses right now, I could record this. And then perhaps pass it onto the police for them to follow up. Or post to YouTube for the audiences who like that type of thing.

I’m excited by Google Glasses.

I love the idea of easily being able to capture and share images and video. This includes sharing imagery with others live.

But I’m also pondering what could go wrong.

If Google Glasses become widely used, there’s potential for a massive impact on our behaviour and in particular the way we interact with each other.

Imagine somebody wearing Google glasses and sharing their experience while they’re:

  • being sanctioned in the workplace
  • in a classroom where a teacher is reprimanding a student
  • witness to a street fight
  • having an argument with their spouse
  • being interviewed for a job
  • at the scene of an accident where a resuscitation is taking place
Mega artistic vision of a Google Glasses future by Prakky
Mega artistic vision of a Google Glasses future by Prakky

If you and I are having an important conversation – even a dispute – and I put on my pair of Google Glasses, how would you react?

Some spaces – schools, workplaces – may ban such devices. But what’s to stop a person walking down a street capturing that image of you littering / jaywalking / falling over/ picking your nose?

Sure. We’re all going to be super well behaved so it won’t matter.

Which raises the question: could Google Glasses’ content be the subject of witness accounts and therefore court proceedings? What does that mean – not just for us but for Google as a company?

Think sexting is a problem now?

Imagine the ease of filming – and live sharing – your girlfriend or boyfriend disrobing, showering, dancing around naked and so on. (Sure, wearing Google glasses may reduce your chances of reaching said intimacy, but hey …)

Do celebrities wish the paparazzi and Twitter and Instagram hadn’t been invented? Just wait until the world’s wearing Google Glasses!

There were complaints when Google Streetview was relatively new, and captured images of some people doing embarrassing things. We seem to have learned to live with Streetview now. (The Google Streetview capture of our house shows one of my son’s putting out the rubbish bins. A rare moment captured for the world). And yes, we already have the technology to be able to share images and video quickly and easily. But we’re talking about glasses here, people! Minimalist-looking glasses which could become ubiquitous and make us think twice about what we do in our everyday lives for fear of being on the world’s stage or having our recorded actions pored over later by others without context.

Don’t get me wrong. I can see that Google Glasses can be used for good rather than evil.

Google Glasses cartoon
Not that I cook .. but, envisioning Google Glasses future at the family dinner table

It’s the same case with social media. We have wonderful supportive communities online. We also  have horrendous and hurtful trolling. It comes down to unpredictable and wide-ranging human behaviour.

For some, the glasses may have sensational impacts:

  • Medical practitioners might share what they’re viewing and seek advice from colleagues
  • Coaches and teachers can impart advise and knowledge over distances
  • ‘Citizen journalists’ could share footage
  • Families can share special moments with those who can’t be there: cutting the birthday cake, saying I Do, sending a grandchild to their first day of school
  • We could more easily document our lives for future generations

Here in Adelaide, roving radio reporters like ABC radio’s Spence Denny could capture what they’re seeing. Today, Spence describes events on air for the studio journalists and listeners, and also shares images on social media. But if he can capture that burst water main with his Google Glasses?

Of course, I’m not the first person to ask these questions and envisage a scary future. The Next Web said: “The glasses situation comes down to each of us deciding how much is too much sharing and when we’ve finally lost too much privacy” .  But most criticism seems to revolve around the potential of ads being pushed at us, and Google storing data about our behaviour and movements, rather than an examination of how it may change us.

Jonathan Macintosh made a video about the privacy implications of Google glasses, demonstrating what it might look like to the wearer, should Google layer the experience with advertising:

Sure, you don’t have to wear Google glasses.

But our Google Glasses experience can be impacted by others.

We may not be the wearer. But we may be star of the film.