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Opinion: Less-than-wholesome uses for Google’s AR glasses

google glassesGoogle is apparently developing augmented reality glasses that will have a camera and allow artificial images and information to overlay what you actually see. Initially, most people envision these being used for more “traditional” augmented reality kinds of experiences, like seeing tenants’ names when you look at apartment buildings, being able to look through walls and see wiring and plumbing (based on recorded plans), and GPS directions popping up magically in front of you (so you don’t take your eyes off the road when driving or bike riding). But of course… most technology is capable of a lot more than just the practical stuff.

Given Google has a rather messed up reputation with regard to privacy anyway, and to date hasn’t aggressively curated the Android app store to keep up questionable apps, maybe it’s worth investigating a few potential other uses for AR glasses.

x-ray-glassesX-ray glasses

If you can look at a building and see plumbing, why not look through clothes? They wouldn’t even have to have to be real images, just a pool of male and female naked bodies (and the Web is full of pictures like this, er, ah, so I’m told). The service would superimpose these over actual, real-world bodies and suddenly everyone you’re looking at would be attractive and naked. Granted, this could lead to some rather disappointing surprises when you took the glasses off, but who says you have to take the glasses off?

It could certainly make watching political speeches more interesting, and I can imagine settings that could either enhance someone you liked or detracted from someone you didn’t like. How about a disliked presidential candidate with the body of a pig, for instance? Or your boss or teacher?

I seem to recall a scene from the Lost in Space movie where Will Robinson (“Danger Will Robinson!”) turned his school principal’s body into that of Rambo and then of an ape during a video call (about 5 minutes into this clip).

Criminal or jerk detector

A few years ago, I was given access to a background checking tool and scanned for sexual predators in my neighborhood. Trust me, you’ll likely have no idea how many people around you apparently fall into that category. Now imagine an app that would highlight people around you who were voted jerks on Facebook or some other social networking site, identified known criminals, habitual liars, or nasty ex-spouses. Over each person’s head would appear a listing of what they were known for, both good and bad. It certainly might cause you to pick more carefully who you spoke to at a bar, or went home with.

terminator vision

Now imagine what that same list might say about you based on what an ex-spouse, coworker, boss, significant other, or just someone you cut off on the way to work said. How about that last time you decided to flame someone else in an online discussion? Not only are you looking at a lot of folks rather strangely, but they are looking at you in much the same fashion. Eventually it could improve how people behave and keep you safer, not to mention catch criminals more quickly. Initially, it’ll probably wipe out dating after 16.

david choe graffitiVirtual graffiti

Physical graffiti is annoying on two fronts: It messes up someone else’s property, and after you put a ton of work into a drawing, someone else will likely scribble over it or cover it up. So it really isn’t either very permanent, nor is it very neighborhood friendly. But with these glasses you could create virtual graffiti. Everything from art, to putting what you think of our ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend on their car or home wall for all your friends to see. You could do this to your own stuff as well. Want your parent’s car to be purple with flames and look more like a Corvette when you drive it? You can do that. How about making your clunker look like a Ferrari to your friends, or that jerk with a Ferrari look like he’s driving a Yugo? All possible with Google augmented reality glasses.

Virtual violence

Imagine putting the glasses in weapon mode. When someone cuts you off on the freeway, you can fire virtual missiles out of your car (assuming they aren’t too distracting) and blow the (virtual) wheels off. Granted, it won’t get rid of the actual car or driver, but it might make you feel better. And it would be vastly more satisfying than taking your hands off the wheel to give them the one-finger salute.

Watching someone on the TV say things you disagree with? Pull out your virtual gun and pop holes into them virtually, or blowing off body parts from time to time could be a lot of fun. You could also call in virtual ninjas, or karate cheer leaders, or the cast of Glee, depending on your own personal preference.

With AR glasses, this wouldn’t have to be on TV, but at live events as well. Just putting a couple of attractive and scantily clad people on the stage or screen virtually might appeal to some people who are more into love than war, or having a monster truck smash the speaker for those that aren’t. In this augmented reality world, anything can be a video game.

It cuts both ways

I don’t think we’ve fully thought through just how much trouble we likely can get into with this wonderful new technology. And remember: Everything I’m saying you could do, others could likely do to you. When speaking in front of an audience and imagining them naked, what are they actually seeing when they are looking at you? Kind of gives a whole new meaning to stage fright.

Isn’t the future grand?