Google moves to bust Glass 'myths'

Glass team takes on privacy and safety issues swirling around the Google wearable computer

That's it. Google says it's had it with what it says are rumors and myths circulating about its entre into the wearable computer market, Google Glass.

The company on Sunday released a list of what they're calling " 10 myths" about Google Glass, along with a matching list of myth debunkers.

Glass is expected to formally ship later this year. It's now being tested by some 8,000 early adopters.

"Myths can be fun, but they can also be confusing or unsettling," Google's Glass team wrote in the blog post. "And if spoken enough, they can morph into something that resembles fact. In its relatively short existence, Glass has seen some myths develop around it. While we're flattered by the attention, we thought it might make sense to tackle them, just to clear the air."

The Glass team goes on to tackle questions about the device's geeky image, privacy and surveillance issues, among other things.

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said Google should have moved to tackle these issues it months ago.

"Google accurately senses that they are losing control of the industry conversation on Glass. They're now attempting to regain control," said Moorhead. "There has been a considerable increase in the negative dialog on Glass."

The first "myth" tackled in the blog post is that Glass distracts users from engaging with the real world.

"Instead of looking down at your computer, phone or tablet while life happens around you, Glass allows you to look up and engage with the world," the Google team said. "Big moments in life -- concerts, your kid's performances, an amazing view -- shouldn't be experienced through the screen you're trying to capture them on. That's why Glass is off by default and only on when you want it to be."

Google also said Glass is not always on and constantly recording conversations as some critics have suggested.

"Just like your cell phone, the Glass screen is off by default," wrote the Glass team. "Video recording on Glass is set to last 10 seconds. People can record for longer, but Glass isn't designed for or even capable of always-on recording (the battery won't last longer than 45 minutes before it needs to be charged)."

The team also took on critics who say Glass is a safety hazard.

Glass does not, as some say, cover a user's eye, blocking the view in from of them.

"The Glass screen is deliberately above the right eye, not in front or over it," the team noted in the blog. "It was designed this way because we understand the importance of making eye contact and looking up and engaging with the world, rather than down at your phone."

Google also takes on critics who say Glass presents privacy problems for everyone around the person wearing them.

"If a company sought to design a secret spy device, they could do a better job than Glass!" the Glass team said in the post. "Let's be honest: if someone wants to secretly record you, there are much, much better cameras out there than one you wear conspicuously on your face and that lights up every time you give a voice command, or press a button."

The Glass team took on some important points, according to Moorhead.

"The most important myth to tackle is safety, or that Glass is unsafe," he said. "And privacy is a huge perception to overcome. The thought of being recorded while talking to someone wearing Glass is concerning for most."

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said the myth list is interesting but he doesn't think it will matter.

"Glass will be well adopted because of the hype around it," he added. "Some may shy away but I'm sure there's a large enough backlog of people waiting for it. Glass has been so hyped as game changing that I think people will take the risks to use the cool new technology."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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