Google Glass is a key technology in the Internet services giant’s plan to break data away from computers and portable devices, such as phones and tablets, and place information directly in front of users’ eyes. Comprising a camera, microphone, display, touch-pad and battery, all integrated into spectacle frames, Google Glass aims to help users view and share information, conduct searches, record video and take pictures on the go.
Months before the product’s release (likely in the first half of 2014), critics are already warning Google Glass will create an array of serious legal issues, particularly in privacy law. But this article isn’t about Google Glass’s possible influence on society or the law; it’s about the technology’s likely impact on lawyers.
When viewed only as a fresh productivity tool, Google Glass appears to have much potential. The technology promises to make lawyers more efficient and productive by allowing adopters to privately and unobtrusively take notes, call up important case data, video-record meetings, photograph evidence, view and edit schedules, check time, message colleagues, conduct on-demand Web searches and get turn-by-turn or step-by-step directions, among other uses.
Like early smartphone and tablet adopters, the first attorneys to don Google Glass will no doubt attract curious stares and comments from clients, colleagues and others. Yet if Google Glass becomes as successful as Google hopes, the technology will gradually enter the mainstream and most resistance will slowly melt away. Much depends, however, on how rapidly the new privacy and related legal and social issues are addressed and resolved.
Even in a best-case scenario, however, Google Glass-wearing lawyers may encounter pockets of opposition for many years. It’s easy to imagine a judge ordering attorneys (and others) to leave their head-mounted devices outside of the courtroom. In earlier times, until formal usage guidelines were established, arbitrary prohibitions — and confusion — greeted lawyers toting portable computers and various other types of emerging tech gadgets into courthouses, conference rooms and other venues. Google Glass users will likely experience similar headaches.
There Will Be Apps
Like any smartphone or tablet, Google Glass will support third-party apps designed to help users accomplish various types of personal and business tasks. While Google isn’t scheduled to open the virtual doors of its Google Glass App Store until sometime early next year, several big businesses and independent software developers have jumped the gun by either releasing or announcing plans for Google Glass apps. Early app providers include such familiar names as Facebook, Twitter and The New York Times. Numerous startups have also hitched their wagons to the Google Glass star, hoping to become a major player in an entirely new social media category.
Although the first Google Glass apps designed for use by members of the legal community have yet to be announced, many such products should become available in just a few years, even if the technology is only half as successful as Google hopes. Meanwhile, here’s a rundown of some of the general-purpose Google Glass apps already on the way.
Connecting and Sharing
• Facebook for Google Glass allows users to share photos and videos directly from their Google Glass to their Facebook account.
• With Twitter for Google Glass, users can share photos with their Twitter followers. Users can also keep up with the people they follow on Twitter through notifications, including mentions, direct messages and tweets from users for whom they have turned on notifications. Users can also reply to, retweet and mark their favorite tweets.
• Lightt lets users make and share their own Google Glass-created videos anytime, anywhere. Individual videos can be connected together to create a complete or ongoing movie.
• Viddy provides a simple way to capture, create and share mobile videos with friends. Users can record videos up to 30 seconds long with their Google Glass.
• With Fullscreen BEAM, users can record a video with Google Glass and then upload it to their YouTube channel for sharing with friends and colleagues.
• Glassagram is an Instagram-like Google Glass app the lets users take photos, customize them with filters, and share them with friends and colleagues.
• Details are scant, but People+ promises to leverage Google Glass to reinvent the ways people connect and remember one another.
• Path lets Google Glass users communicate privately with free one-to-one and group messaging. Other features include the ability to capture and share everyday photos, notes and other types of content and selectively cross-post the material to other social networks.
• Blogger Glassware lets users sync their Blogger.com blogs to their Google Glass devices. The app also allows posting of images and voice text straight from Google Glass.
• With Through Glass, pictures shared by other Google Glass users are automatically delivered to the user’s own Google Glass.
News and Information
• The New York Times on Google Glass supplies users with breaking news alerts and hourly news updates. Users can tap their headgear to have article summaries read aloud.
• CNN News Alerts lets users subscribe to different topics and then pick the frequency those stories will appear. As with most other Google Glass news services, content will literally appear in the Glass.
• Thirst Droplet allows users to follow news topics they are interested in and view the best story (according to individual preferences) for each subject.
• Google Glass users can also turn to Field Trip to identify real-world objects within their field of view and receive key information and facts.
Travel, Entertainment, Dining, Shopping
• Traveling lawyers wearing Google Glass can ask Glass Eats to find nearby restaurants in various categories, with top results drawn directly from the Yelp website.
• Through The Walls is an augmented reality app that guides its user toward his or her current destination. The app automatically tracks the location and the direction of the user’s Google Glass and then populates the display with easy-to-follow instructions and related information.
• Crystal Shopper lets users unobtrusively scan a barcode with Google Glass, check prices and read relevant Amazon reviews.
• Send to Google Glass allows users to send text notes and images directly to their Google Glass.
• Check stock prices on Google Glass with Glass Stocks. Users can pick the stocks they want to keep an eye on and refresh quotes anytime they feel like it.
• Evernote for Google Glass lets users quickly capture a photo or short video and send it to their Evernote account. Users can also select a note from Evernote Web and send it directly into the Glass Timeline queue so it’s available directly in the device’s field of view when it’s needed. •