Could Google Glass Have Solved the Boston Bombings?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Google (GOOG) started delivering the first batch -- probably a few hundred,at the most -- eyeglasses to the earliest adopters this week.Production and sales will ramp in stages in the coming weeks andmonths until they become generally available sometime within a yearfrom now.

Now, imagine that we could shift some parts of history by a year ortwo. Imagine that most people in public this week were wearingGoogle's eyeglasses, recording all audio and video almost all thetime.

Let me suggest this: The case of the Boston bombings would have beensolved within minutes, perhaps seconds. With hundreds or thousands ofpeople wearing Google glasses, hardly one movement or word acted orspoken in public would have remained unrecorded. There would be nomystery as to who did it.

There were already a few photos and videos of the event, you say.Well, obviously too few, too little, too far away, too late. Usingsmartphones and other cameras, most people simply don't record all thetime. Fixed rooftop cameras: Too few, too low-quality, too far away.Too little data, too much uncertainty.

With Google's eyeglasses, recording will not be a burden, so why notleave them on all the time? The quantity of film and audio tape wouldmultiply by many decimal points. People walk and stand very close toeach other, and the audio may be as revealing as the video.

Imagine a group of 100 or 1,000 people on a city block recording audioand turning their heads while wearing Google glasses: There would benothing left undiscovered by a forensic team. A perp would have to besilent (leaving no voice print) and wear a face mask or some otherface-altering makeup. It would be a lot more difficult to escape theabundant video and/or audio evidence.

I have written before about the creepy impact -- some would saynegative -- resulting from everyone wearing Google's eyeglasses. But there is a positive side, too, and that is -- at a minimum --crime prevention and resolution.

Once most people start wearing Google glasses, there will be zeroprivacy in public. Everything you do in the presence of anotherperson -- walk, talk, just stand there -- will be a matter of adatabase search. Meeting someone at a cafe just to chat in private?Forget about it. Several people wearing Google glasses will haverecorded it -- audio and video.

Previously, the person at the nearest table might have overheard theconversation. With Google Glass, the whole world will be looking andlistening to what you had to say. Your whole life -- and the peoplearound you -- will effectively be broadcast on YouTube, sort of like"The Truman Show" movie from 1998.

This will be good for cloud storage companies, whether EMC ( EMC), IBM ( IBM) or many other companies in that corner of the market. It will also be good for Google's Android business.

If you want Google's eyeglasses -- and very few people won't -- areyou going to pair them with an Android smartphone or one from Apple ( AAPL), Microsoft ( MSFT) or BlackBerry ( BBRY)? Google made its Glass app available in theGoogle Play store this week.

What if you have an iPhone, BlackBerry or Windows Phone? Well, whoknows? Perhaps some day, perhaps not, perhaps not as good.

Let me suggest that if you want to have the highest probability of thebest Google Glass experience as soon as possible, your best bet is topair with an Android Nexus phone. It will drive the geeks straightout of Apple's walled garden into Google's Android world.

This may also be a partial explanation behind Apple's recent stockunderperformance. Looking around Silicon Valley, I see influencersditching the iPhone in favor of "getting prepared" for Google Glass byusing an Android phone, often a Nexus. This is likely going toaccelerate dramatically next month and in the quarters that follow.

Of course, Apple and Microsoft are probably also working on their owneyeglasses. I would be shocked if they haven't both spent at least ayear on this one. However, if Google comes to market with a productthat turns out well, and manages to get a few quarters' worth of atime-to-market advantage, this could prove devastating for Google'scompetition.

Samsung? Yes, it, too. And you know Samsung is a lot closer toAndroid than iOS or Windows Phone.

I have written before that Google Glass will cause all sorts of socialstrife, conflict and tremendous public suspicion, but there are a lot of people in Boston and at the FBI right nowwho wish that everyone on the streets were using Google Glass thisweek. There is little doubt that Google Glass will cause one of themost dramatic changes in the history of mankind over the next year orso.

All sorts of questions arise with Google Glass:

1. How will Google Glass bans be enforced? What will happen whenpeople walk into a gym, cafe, restaurant or Las Vegas casino?

2. What will happen in future product revisions, once Google glassesaren't easily detected?

3. What will happen in the interaction with police and other people?

4. These kinds of glasses are small computers, so they are expensive-- $1,500 for the first round of them this quarter. Will there be alot of thefts?

5. How will police subpoena the audio and video recordings peoplewill likely constantly be making?

In all my years of covering technology, I have never seen such a swiftshift into uncharted territory as this one. The cloud services arethere; the wireless networks are there -- in other words, thesurrounding elements are in place for Google Glass to take off like arocket.

This situation is spring-loaded for very dramatic societalbehavior shift, unlike any new technology to date. It can ricochet inall sorts of unpredictable directions.

There is much we don't know about Google Glass. What will be thekiller apps? Kleiner Perkins and Andreessen Horowitz are helpingGoogle with venture capital financing to identify new ideas for GoogleGlass. This mimics what Kleiner Perkins did after the iPhone's 2007introduction, financing the iPhone app ecosystem. That was a winner,to say the least.

All the uncertainty notwithstanding, the only certain winner I see isGoogle and the numerous cloud storage plays. The first year or two ofGoogle Glass may be bumpy both on the streets and in the stock market,but there is more upside than downside for Google here.

At the time of publication the author was long GOOG, AAPL and short MSFT.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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