NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- By the end of this year, our society will undergo a most peculiar form of societal change -- and it will involve a lot of strife andconflict. The cause? Google (GOOG) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class C Report Glasses.
Google Glasses will impactsocietal behavior from the moment they arrive. As soon as you see them, you're aware that you might be filmed. People don't like being filmed.
Yes, every smartphone can record you and take pictures.But you know when this is happening. It isn't a constantfeeling that everyone around you is filming you from every angle. You see them when they do it.
Google Glasses are different. More than just photos and filming, what happens to this data?
Let's say that I'm standing behind the counter at a businessestablishment -- bank, fast-food restaurant, airline check-in counter,whatever. My Google Glasses might display the socialsecurity number, the general rap sheet, social media appearances, and so on, ofthe person in front of me.
Perhaps that's a good thing. Some people will think it's creepy,though. Can you imagine the bar scene when people start wearingGoogle Glasses? Within a second or two, you willhave all available information about the person in front of you. Some of thatinformation may not be so flattering.
Public places will have to come up with new policies. Hotels, airports,restaurants, gyms and schools will want some say in whether you areallowed to wear these Google Glasses on their premises. You can justhear the panic buttons after the first pictures frompeople cheating in school or filming in the locker room are releasedon YouTube. Conflicts about are certain to getvery ugly.
Other dimensions immediately appear. What if future versions ofGoogle Glasses are very difficult to detect in terms of lookingdifferent from regular glasses?
What happens when you walk into an establishment today wielding avideo camera in the faces of the staff? In a restaurant, a bank lobby, or a gym? You will be asked toturn that thing off, and if you don't obey quickly, you will beescorted from the premises.
Google Glasses will make all social/public interactionhighly awkward. You're on YouTubeeverywhere you go. Afew short months after their introduction, Google Glasses couldalready be so widespread that you will be on camera once you stickyour nose out your front door.
Privacy lawyers, saddle up!
The Google Glasses data captured in the form of pictures and videoswill not only be used by the person wearing the glasses. The person capturing the images may want to "auto-tag" thesemedia with the identities of the people in the picture/video.
Some people prefer to stayoff the grid. They pay cash, they drive a car without GPS, theydon't have a cell phone, and they're not members of online socialnetworks. They have been able to stay out of most publiclyavailable databases.
Once a meaningful percentage of people start walking down the streetwearing Google Glasses, not so much. There will be no place to hide-- unless the government legislates Google Glasses, orprivate establishments decide to ban them.
What about Google itself?
Google Glasses will be the critical ingredient in the personalinformation arms race of the (soon to arrive) future. If other peoplewear them, why shouldn't I? I predict that everyone with means willrush to obtain them, especially as the price falls from $1,500 to$1,000 to $500 and eventually below, over the first two years.
If Google succeeds in bringing these kinds of glasses to market beforekey competitors, most notably
, but also
, theadvantage could prove to be decisive. Google already has a 70%smartphone market share with Android, so it's pretty much alreadythere, but don't forget the Microsoft's market share in the PCbusiness was close to 95% until only a few short years ago.
Seeing as Google is likely to engineer some sort of tie-in betweenthe Glasses and Android smartphones, the Glasses should be atremendous boon for Android. Anyone looking at their iPhone wouldhave to seriously consider switching.
Google Glasses may cause societal chaos, but they will be great forGoogle's finances.
At the time of submitting this article, the author was long GOOG andAAPL, and short MSFT.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.