Taking a picture on Google's smart glasses is now as easy as winking. The newly official feature allows Google Glass wearers to capture images without resorting to the drudgery of pressing a camera button above the right eye or speaking the sentence "OK glass, take a picture."
The official Google blog post imagines that winking control will eventually enable instantaneous shopping, instant payment of taxi cab fares, hands-free summoning of cooking recipe instructions, and much more. But the initial feature of winking for photos will likely prove satisfying for many wearers, even if it's potentially confusing for their friends and family.
"Whether it's capturing an amazing sunset on an evening walk, or photographing your receipt for the lunch you'll need to expense, you can now stay in the moment and wink to take a picture instantly," said the Google blog post.
Such news should come as no surprise for Google Glass watchers. People digging through the Google Glass software code identified winking as an inactive feature back in April. Mike DiGiovanni, a Google Glass developer, took advantage of the device's capability to create The Winky app for snapping photos in May. (DiGiovanni also told The Verge he had found Google Glass code for identifying double blinks and double winks.)
Many user interactions on Google Glass currently involve swiping and tapping on the device's touchpad near the wearer's right temple, or using voice commands such as "get directions to..." and "make a call to..." The official introduction of winking suggests that the Google Glass development team could increasingly leverage the power of eye gestures and eye-tracking capabilities.
(The smart glasses' eye-tracking capability could also enable Google to consider the idea of "pay-per-gaze" advertising for Google Glass in the future. That advertising idea popped up in a Google patent, but the Glass development team denied having any intention of incorporating the feature into their device.)
Having winking as a control feature may prove convenient for users, but it also complicates the privacy concerns regarding Google Glass. Glass advocates had previously claimed that nobody should worry about having his or her picture taken unknowingly because the picture-taking actions of pressing a button or speaking aloud are obvious. A wink could either let the wearer get away with sneaky pictures or lead to confrontations with wary members of the public—and perhaps compel even more restaurants and bars to ban the device from their property.
Photo: Ints Kalnins/Reuters
Jeremy Hsu has been working as a science and technology journalist in New York City since 2008. He has written on subjects as diverse as supercomputing and wearable electronics for IEEE Spectrum. When he’s not trying to wrap his head around the latest quantum computing news for Spectrum, he also contributes to a variety of publications such as Scientific American, Discover, Popular Science, and others. He is a graduate of New York University’s Science, Health & Environmental Reporting Program.