Google Glass May Demand New Usage Rules

Google has not announced telepathy features for Glass.

To most people, the biggest danger of Google Glass is the near certainty that wearers will be taunted mercilessly by co-workers only half-motivated by jealousy. Plus there’s always the chance that wearers, distracted by email or cute-cat photos on the tiny screen over their left eye, will walk into traffic or off the edge of high places, turning that “Aw!” into “AAAAH!” in the process.

The penetration of wearable computing devices, especially Optical Head Mounted Displays (OHMD) such as Google Glass, is so small that corporate risk analyses are few and far between. ABI research predicts sports- and healthcare-related wearables will grow 41 percent per year, to a total of 170 million devices by 2017.

Most will be performance monitors, disability assist devices, gaming or other augmented-reality systems rarely used in the workplace. But that will change.

Google Glass is expected to be commercially distributed during 2014, which guarantees a sudden influx of them into the workplace under the umbrella permission of BYOD programs.

Once they get there, expect a culture clash between Google Glass users concerned with their productivity, other employees concerned the non-obvious video-recording ability of Google Glass will invade their privacy, and data-security specialists concerned that wearables will make it so much easier to photograph or upload sensitive data that existing data-protection policies won’t be enough to protect the company. At least, that’s according to Information Intersection, which covers legal issues stemming from new technology.

It’s possible that allowing Google Glass-wearers in the office would make regulatory compliance more difficult, according to Janco Associates, Inc. Before Google Glass users are allowed into work, company managers should define issues such as what data they can record, when and where they can record video, what notice they should give those around them before recording, and what kind of passwords and encryption should be used.

Without those guidelines, the occasional problems created in the office by users of smartphones and other camera-enabled gadgets – which become serious problems and points of contention in courthouses, medical offices and other places in which process and privacy take priority over efficiency – will show up in less-restricted workplaces as well.

In workplaces with restrictions or defined procedures for the use of recording or computing devices, or that are trying to maintain access control over both their wireless networks and data, there’s not much choice other than to set some basic rules, according to political blog site PolicyMic. Google Glass security has already been hacked, making security an open question, and even some restaurant and bar owners in California have banned the devices due to privacy concerns, the blog added.

As the number of sometimes-overlooked but privacy-invading gadgets grows, it will become increasingly necessary to issue policies on how not to use technology that might be offensive to others, similar to guidelines that currently exist for online behavior.

Because, no matter how likely it is, you just can’t count on every deuchey or dorky Google Glass wearer to walk him- or herself out into traffic; the rest of the community has to intervene.