Here's Looking At You... With Eyez
A video from Business Insider shows a young man attempting "in real life" some of things we only do online — with understandably funny results. He goes up to a group and asks if he can be their friend. Then he goes to another lot and asks if he can write on their wall. He stops someone to tell them how he likes their jacket. And finally, he asks a group of girls if he can poke them. He gets some strange looks, I can tell you. The video is a humorous comment on how very strange our lives online are, and how different from reality, sometimes. You would never do any of these things for real. It's also true that you wouldn't dream of revealing in real life and to almost-strangers, some of the things you do freely and prolifically on Facebook and other networks. Privacy isn't what it used to be.
I had written before, in my column While You Were Out that the whole landscape of privacy as we know it will change even as we participate in that change without fully realizing it. Practically all the big tech and social companies slip in features that violate our privacy grossly, say sorry, and go right on using those features. Facebook being the chief culprit. Thanks to Facebook, what you Like can appear anywhere and to anyone, and your friends can take you to whatever they choose. When the complaints from users get too loud, Facebook will point out how you can get into your settings so easily and change your privacy preferences. Most people are not tech-savvy enough to attempt this fiddling around. You'll have perhaps heard of the young girl who didn't realize how un-private her birthday invitation was until 1600 or so guests (including 100 police) arrived at her house.
Even wittingly, people today seem to have no hesitation putting up all manner of bizarre things online, leading one to wonder what sort of voyeuristic-exhibitionistic culture we've spawned through technology. Well, be that as it may, things are about to get worse. Or better, if you want to look at it that way. With tech innovators building social networking into the DNA of every product now, we will see stranger things still. And one of them is a pair of glasses from Seattle-based company, Zion-Eyez. This cool shades, which don't look very different from others, have more than just brand value and looks to offer. They have a hidden camera, which may be small but records 1280x720p HD video, microphone, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. The next time someone in dark glasses is looking at you for too long, it could be a nice video of you going right out to Facebook or YouTube. And with three hours of battery life, there's quite enough time to do it too!
That does it. I'm outta here, as they say in America. These glasses aren't ready yet, but they're already on pre-order for $200.
I'm all for technological innovation, but this is downright uncomfortable. Legal eagles, get ready with your briefcases, for there're sure to be lots of issues with this set of Eyez. With Eyez that not only see but record and upload, can we ever feel private again? Yes, there are great uses possible. You could eyewitness an important happening and transmit it to the world, if you're a journalist - or not. You could do field trips and send video reports instead of lengthy wordy ones. You could go on a trip and send back amazing experiences for friends and family to see. But you could also be part of something you didn't opt to have anything to do with.
Of course, it's not about this product in particular. More will come. It's about how we'll handle it. Technology is not to be blamed for what human beings do with it, after all.
Mala Bhargava is a personal technology writer and media professional. Contact her at [email protected] and @malabhargava on Twitter