Preeminent Cyborg Afraid Google's Glass Design Might Be Wack

Google's been pushing its Project Glass hard lately, with Sergey Brin wearing a pair everywhere, and going so far as to call smartphones "emasculating." The space-age specs do seem pretty cool, but everyone's favorite Canadian cyborg Steve Mann told IEEE Specturm that he's concerned about its design. And he would know.

Professor Steve Mann, of the University of Toronto—whom you may remember from an incident in a McDonalds last summer—has been working with vision-enhancing technology for decades now, and has Glass-like tech attached to his skull. In a story in March's IEEE Spectrum, he opened up about his feelings on Google Glass:

I have mixed feelings about the latest developments. On one hand, it's immensely satisfying to see that the wider world now values wearable computer technology. On the other hand, I worry that Google and certain other companies are neglecting some important lessons. Their design decisions could make it hard for many folks to use these systems. Worse, poorly configured products might even damage some people's eyesight and set the movement back years.

What are those design decisions? Mann's wary of a camera that adopts a viewpoint that's not quite like the one the eye it's being beamed to should be seeing. "The slight misalignment seemed unimportant at the time, but it produced some strange and unpleasant results," he says of a prototype he once made with a similar screen. "And those troubling effects persisted long after I took the gear off." And he solved those problems (with fancy optics) years ago.

From IEEE Spectrum:

It's astounding to me that Google and other companies now seeking to market head-wearable computers with cameras and displays haven't leapfrogged over my best design (something I call "EyeTap Generation-4 Glass") to produce models that are even better. Perhaps it's because no one else working on this sort of thing has spent years walking around with one eye that's a camera.

Google's upcoming ~$1,500 goggles are only first-run devices, surely just the first in a longer series of models. And most of Mann's concerns involve replacing an eye's field of vision with video from the mounted camera, something Glass doesn't seem to do tooooo often, yet. But still, hopefully Google's been taking notes to prepare for V2. This seems like important stuff. [IEEE Specturm via The Register]