Forget the graceful lines and near-invisibility of Google Glass, the “geektacles” that everyone loved to hate.
Actually, not everyone hated them, at least at first.
Early adopters loved them (and at 1000 quid a go, who wouldn’t?) until Google stopped selling them somewhat suddenly.
Oh, and they weren’t exactly invisible, which was just as well, considering that they were supposed to make a fashion statement.
And, of course, they were supposed to be reasonably obvious to other people in order to forewarn them that you might well be filming them as part of the movie of your life.
Nevertheless, forget Google Glasses.
Those weren’t augmented reality spectacles.
THESE are augmented reality spectacles:
Introducing the Sony SmartEyeglass Developer Edition!
They look a bit like a motorcycle helmet with the actual helmet part missing.
And the chin strap.
Of course, if you’re a Star Trek fan, the unit might make you think of Geordi La Forge.
Being blind from birth, Lieutenant La Forge used augmented reality spectacles called VISOR.
The setup allowed him to “see” synthetically, giving him “vision” across a much wider range of electromagnetic radiation than conventionally-sighted humans.
→ The irony that you might not know is that, in real life, VISOR was a sore point for actor LeVar Burton, literally and figuratively. Firstly, the VISOR unit was sort-of clamped to his head, giving him a headache whenever the crew was filming. Secondly, it blocked out about 85% of his normal vision, causing him to bump into things all the time.
Sony SmartEyeglass Developer Edition – I can’t keep writing that, so I’ll just call it SmEgEd from now on – isn’t quite as funky-looking as VISOR (or, if we’re honest, as Google Glass).
For a start, there’s a SmEgEd cable that leads down the back of your neck, like the wiring for a bouncer’s communications device, connecting to a combination battery pack and control box:
And the control box has buttons that, presumably, you need to press as part of the device’s user interface.
That seems somewhat at odds with SmEgEd’s promotional blurb that invites you to consider:
Imagine never not knowing, always having your hands free.
That’s where things get a bit different to how they are with Google Glass.
Google’s spectacles are a computer in their own right, running a special version of Android, complete with special apps.
By way of contrast, SmEgEd isn’t really a computer at all: it’s just a peripheral that connects to a nearby Android device over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
In some ways, that makes the Sony product a bigger privacy worry than Google Glass ever was, because it can never really be considered more secure than the Android device it’s connected to at any moment.
On the other hand, it’s pretty obvious when someone’s wearing their Sony spectacles.
What isn’t clear is how obvious it will be when the camera is active, whether to record continuous video or to take single still snapshots.
We’ll also have to wait and see whether any tell-tale “camera on” indicators built into the device by Sony can be turned off by malicious software.
Here at Naked Security we’ll rush out and buy a pair as soon as they’re available, for research purposes, of course, in order to answer those very questions.
[They cost $820 each. You’re dreaming, son – Ed.]
Oh, one more privacy question to consider: “What will the Sony equivalent of a Glasshole be called?”