Google calms Glass privacy concerns in new FAQ, promises wider availability in 2014

Google GlassGoogle has published a new, more extensive FAQ on Google Glass, the technology behind it, future plans, and perhaps most pertinently, the ever-growing security concerns. There are nine questions and answers listed under a section named Glass Security & Privacy, with several concentrating on the spec’s camera and video functionality.

This, along with the chance facial recognition software could be installed, was among the points raised by a Congressional privacy group in May, and it featured heavily in a series of questions it sent to CEO Larry Page. So, what has Google said to calm everyone’s nerves? For a start, it has said Glass has a default setting where video will record for just 10 seconds before shutting off, and that even if this is overridden, the battery will only last for 45 minutes of continuous recording anyway. Google says if you want to capture your entire day on video, there are many devices with which you can do so, but, “Glass is simply not one of them.”

Like Android smartphones, images and videos taken with Glass will be uploaded to the Instant Upload album on your Google+ account, but they won’t be viewable by the public as standard. But what about warning people you’re about to record or photograph them? We knew about the “OK Glass” command, but now we know the specs need an “Explicit command” to activate these features, such as pressing the side-mounted button or saying, “OK Glass, record a video.” Regardless of the command used, the screen will light up each time, making it obvious the device is in use. Google also reiterates it won’t be installing facial recognition software – making this device pointless – and that users have complete control over Glass, so Google won’t be able to see what you’re doing.

As far as security is concerned, Google will add a remote wipe feature in case Glass is stolen, plus owners will be able to track them using a remote location feature through the MyGlass website. It’s also working on a lock mode to further protect owners.

Other interesting details revealed in the FAQ include confirmation of the eight Glassware partners – Path, Evernote, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, The New York Times, Elle, and CNN – plus the fact advertising is still banned from Glass. Google says it’s still working on frames for Glass which can accept prescription lenses, and that the current lensless frames weigh just over 40 grams.

Finally, Google will be inviting more Explorers to try Glass later in 2013, while it promises, “Even broader availability next year.”


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