Culture

Rambling Dispatches: Google Glass

google glass

Every week in Rambling Dispatches, resident malcontent Quinn McGee rants about whatever he damn well pleases.

So I’m a technology and science nerd from time to time, with a lot of emphasis on how to incorporate technology into the advancement of society and life in general. At first, I was against tablets and found them unnecessary. We had computers that worked very well, and we had netbooks that made computers more portable and affordable to the masses. It helped the world become connected. Now we have the Chromebook gaining attention, which is putting decent computers in the hands of the everyday person. They allow anyone to be connected and work with others, with the Google suite of online programs, in a very affordable package. These advancements are great, because computers really are an inevitable part of our lives. Tablets can even be used in ways outside of some Angry Birds engine. I can think of how they can be used in schools and are already used in medicine to reduce the amount of paperwork involved in both cases. They are great inventions. There are great inventions happening every week, since we are constantly innovating, but there is one that just amazes me and I probably will never get behind.

I’m talking about Google Glass, or the “become a Borg” starter kit. Now, I get why people are excited about this, and it’s the same reason that we all get excited about a new, super-fast car that’s ultimately useless in the real world. We get shit to show people that we have money to get shit sometimes. Google Glass is the new thing that can show off opulence. But what’s the big deal?

It’s a computer that projects images right in front of your eye. It will have the potential to take Skype conversations and show what’s in front of you, a.k.a. the same function of most smart phones with a front/rear facing camera. It will take calls too, which happens to exist in a thing called a Bluetooth headset. What I’m saying is that Google Glass does nothing different than the smartphones most people currently use, which includes all of the stupid apps and social media things for which we commonly use our phones. You just shove all of this into a hands-free thing that projects into your eyeball. And speaking of being right in front of your eye, remember when we weren’t supposed to stare at a screen for too long or sit too close to the television, because it’s not good for your eyes? People get sore eyes all the time looking at screens; I know I do after just a few hours, and it’s a foot away from me. What’s going to happen when it’s about an inch?

And if all of this sounds like a good idea, they’re looking for beta testers, except you have to pay to be a tester. Something’s wrong there, since they don’t know if these glasses are even healthy to wear. (There are already fears they could cause cancer, but what doesn’t?) And after paying for it, you have to fly yourself to where Google is distributing them, if you’re selected and aren’t already in that location. That doesn’t sound like a deal to me. It’s also just bad testing, since the only ones who’re going to be able to test it will be the people with the money to invest in a useless piece of technology in the first place, so of course they’re going to say it’s a good product.

And what pisses me off is that there are a few other innovations in the world that are way more important than this. Back to eye things, have you heard of the rental implant that has been used to help the blind see in Germany? It’s already helped eight people, and plans on helping more as the trials continue. I know I made a Borg joke before and now am singing the praises of an actual implant, but I’m a hypocrite, so whatever. This could help people, and it came out in the news around the same time as the Google Glass, but let’s get real, what’s the most impressive of these inventions? I would rather give all the news to the company that’s making the blind see, rather than one that’s made a glorified Foursquare engine.

Another tech that is more impressive to me was one developed by a 15-year-old. Jack Andraka created a small sensor that could be used to detect the precursors of pancreatic cancer at a near-100% accuracy level. We’ve been able to detect cancer for years, but did I mention that the testing stick he uses costs three cents to make? That’s right. While all of the cancer research foundations and scientists around the world have been working, a boy using the lab at John Hopkins University developed a super cheap and accurate method of detecting cancer, which is also thought to be used to detect other diseases with some retooling of the chemical sensor. Where was this guy’s day in the press? If you didn’t look a lot at the science industry, you would have missed him.

Here are two inventions, one involving the eyes of the blind, and one involving a guy just trying to help people who are sick, outclassed in the news by debut of a social media engine for your face. I don’t have a lot against Google, because they’re one of the most honest and innovative companies in America and are really good to their employees, unlike many. It’s just sad that this boy and this company in Germany did what they did and got no recognition for it in the mass media, but these glasses did. I think we really need to prioritize what’s important, since helping people should be our main source of pride, not some tech that can only be afforded by the rich as a way to show how rich they still are.