While privacy watchdogs fret over the possibility that people wearing Google Glass might photograph or even video record others without their knowledge, at least one tech luminary is predicting that someday we’ll grow so comfortable with the wearable technology that we’ll feel “naked and lonely” without it.
Marc Andreessen, who co-created the first mainstream web browser and is now a leading Silicon Valley investor, told CNBC on Wednesday: “I believe in the dream … the idea of having the internet with you all the time, being able to see, like, literally have the internet in your field of vision. And then also, right, the other thing with Glass is to be able to talk to it and then it talks back to you. It basically just wraps you in all the information you would ever need all the time. I think people are gonna find that they’re gonna feel basically naked and lonely when they don’t have this at some point. They’re gonna feel like they’re cut off from the world.”
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He went on to say that he would wear his prototype Google Glass “constantly” if it didn’t draw so much attention. “It’s like driving a ’67 Corvette. Like, it’s a great way to get people to come up and talk to you on the street. I need to live in the world where everybody has one, and then I’ll wear it all the time.”
While Google Glass doesn’t hit the shelves until next year, thousands of “explorers” have been beta testing a $1500 prototype since March. (To get a peek at what your field of vision will look like through the eyewear, check out this Google video.) The current voice-controlled prototype lets you take pictures, receive texts, get directions and check the weather on a virtual screen projected into your line of sight. Third-party developers are creating add-ons, including a porn app reportedly in the works.
Not everyone is as “tickled pink” by the augmented reality device as Andreessen. Tech reviewers point out that Glass could make us act more self-consciously and trust others less. Casinos in New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Connecticut have already banned the glasses based on worries that gamblers might use them to cheat. “If these eyeglasses were worn during a poker game, they could be used to broadcast a patron’s hand to a confederate or otherwise be used in a collusive manner,” New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement director, David Rebuck, wrote in a memo reported on by the Associated Press last week.
Andreessen isn’t the only fan of Google Glass, but his enthusiasm for the wearable tech may be colored by his financial interest in it: His firm Andreessen Horowitz plans to invest in companies that are developing apps for Glass. He wrote in his blog on Monday: “We are working with Google to encourage a new generation of startup entrepreneurs to build applications for Google’s new breakthrough Glass platform.”
Want some of Andreessen’s money? Just send in your proposal: ‘We are open for business (email@example.com) to seed fund startups to build the first generation of amazing Glass applications,” Andreessen wrote in his blog post.