How Much Could Google Glass Change the Way People Consume Content?
Ever since he was a kid, Henry-Alex Rubin has been waiting for Google Glass. Not so much Google’s new camera-embedded eyeglasses that everyone’s talking about, but the fulfillment of a dream the filmmaker, who was nominated for an Oscar for “Murderball,” has long harbored: a camera you can turn on at will, that records the world as you see it from your own eyes.
Next year, when Google begins selling Glass to the masses, that dream becomes a reality for anyone who can afford the device. When Glass debuts, the way we tell stories and watch others tell them may start to change in significant ways. And not just for the people who upload their life moments onto YouTube: Feature films, documentaries, television programming, videogames — many areas could be disrupted, if not by Glass right away, then over time by the technologies that power it.
Rubin — whose latest film, “Disconnect,” about the Internet and the ways people abuse it, came out this summer — is an early champion of Glass as a tool for creating film and video.
“This is the most exciting idea in filmmaking since the invention of video,” he says. “It may even be more radical than the videocamera.”
Of course, not everyone is so excited. For every discussion that revolves around the potential for Glass to change the way video entertainment is filmed, distributed and watched, there is a counter-conversation that takes on a more concerned tone of voice. There are considerable fears circulating from social media to newspaper op-eds about seeing personal privacy violated, and people filmed whether or not they like it (or know it). Myriad movie houses, bars and hospitals have already publicly declared themselves ready to ban Glass. Some states are considering forbidding the device from cars. Google even barred it from its shareholder meeting in June.
The insult that describes someone who abuses the device in an intrusive manner has quickly become a part of the Silicon Valley lexicon: “Glasshole.”
This dichotomy of promise and peril is being keenly acknowledged in the entertainment industry. Even as executives and filmmakers talk about the impact it could have on the craft itself, they dread how simple and surreptitious it could make movie piracy.
“The film business is right to be excited about Google Glass on the one hand and concerned on the other,” says Steven Rosenbaum, CEO of Magnify.net, an online-video platform startup. “You can’t separate the two. It will open us up to a lot of new (opportunities), but it could also open up a lot of problems.”
Even if history consigns Glass to the pile of intriguing fads that never catch on — that is, even if it’s disdained as ungainly or is washed away by a privacy backlash — the idea of wearable computers will be with us for good.
Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and others are working on their own accessorizable processors. Some of them may be worn as a wristwatch, or embedded in clothing. In time, according to a report by Forrester Research, they could appear inside a contact lens or worn as a tattoo.
In the case of Glass, there are two wearable computers: One is a tiny and barely perceptible camera worn at the level of sight, switched on and off at will, and offering intuitive control of the shot without constraining body movement. The second is a technology just as potentially disruptive: augmented reality. The Glass eyepiece contains a screen that can display photos, videos, maps, emails, social media feeds and a wide array of other second-screen content. It’s a screen that never needs to be fished out of a pocket or purse, and is navigated by voice or a touch of the device.