Although we have not seen that much about how Google’s augmented reality glasses will actually work (apart from a few photos and video at the Google I/O skydiver demo), the company plans to get the $1,500 Explorer Edition into hands of I/O attendees who preordered the device by next year. Google appears to already be thinking about security features for Project Glass with a patent published by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (via Engadget) that details various ways of locking the device or sounding an alarm when detecting unnatural movements. It would also be capable of alerting authorities that the glasses have been stolen or unintentionally removed.
These features would have certainly been useful to University of Toronto professor Dr. Steve Mann (pictured above), who recently was physically assaulted for wearing his EyeTap Digital Eye Glass system. Mann described the experience of having his vision system, which he explained could only be removed with special tools, ripped off his head by a McDonalds employee:
…another person within McDonalds physically assaulted me, while I was in McDonand’s, eating my McDonand’s Ranch Wrap that I had just purchased at this McDonald’s. He angrily grabbed my eyeglass, and tried to pull it off my head. The eyeglass is permanently attached and does not come off my skull without special tools… I tried to calm him down and I showed him the letter from my doctor and the documentation I had brought with me… Perpetrator 2 angrily crumpled and ripped up the letter from my doctor. My other documentation was also destroyed by Perpetrator 1.
Luckily, Mann was able to capture images of the perpetrators using his eyeglass:
The computerized eyeglass processes imagery using Augmediated Reality, in order to help the wearer see better, and when the computer is damaged, e.g. by falling and hitting the ground (or by a physical assault), buffered pictures for processing remain in its memory, and are not overwritten with new ones by the then non-functioning computer vision system… As a result of Perpetrator 1′s actions, therefore images that would not have otherwise been captured were captured. Therefore by damaging the Eye Glass, Perpetrator 1 photographed himself and others within McDonalds.
While the blog post does not offer any explanation for the assault, as noted by Mann, McDonalds may want to get used to seeing more customers wearing devices like these with Google Glass around the corner. He has not been able to get authorities or anyone at McDonalds to compensate him for damage to the EyeTap, but he has posted images of the suspects and more details in his blog post.
For those interested in Mann’s EyeTap vision system, he provided a brief explanation on his blog:
Although it has varied over the last 34 years, I have worn the present embodiment of this system (pictured below) for 13 years. This simple design which I did in collaboration with designer Chris Aimone, consists of a sleek strip of aluminum that runs across the forehead, with two silicone nose pads. It holds an EyeTap device (computer-controlled laser light source that causes the eye itself to function as if it were both a camera and display, in effect) in front of my right eye. It also gives the wearer the appearance of having a “glass eye”, this phenomenon being known as the “glass eye” effect (Presence Connect, 2002). Over the years the EyeTap has also therefore been known as the “Glass Eye” or “Eye Glass”, or “Digital Eye Glass”, using the word “Glass” in its singular form, rather than its plural form “Glasses” (See figure caption, “EyeTap digital eye glass”, Aaron Harris/Canadian Press, Monday Dec. 22, 2003).