The “Google Glass and Wearables: What All Journalists and Newsrooms Should Know (And Test)” session took place Saturday morning, and presenters demonstrated the upcoming Google Glass device along with a few other gadgets.
“[Technology] gets smaller, faster, cheaper and more intimate with us,” Assistant Professor at USC Annenberg Robert Hernandez said.
The next wave of technology is on the horizon, and the term to know is “wearables.”
Small, discreet and unintrusive is a staple of this generation, and the nature of these devices begs many questions for journalists that have yet to be fully answered.
Smart watches are already available. Developer kits for the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality device, are ready to purchase. Apple is expected to unveil the company’s first foray into wearable computing with a formal announcement slated for Tuesday.
“This is not sci-fi,” Hernandez said. “It’s real stuff.”
Google Glass has a use in nearly every industry, but journalists, in particular, can see the value in these devices have for the future of news.
“I can see a much more narrative form of first-person story-telling,” Amy Cherry, Assistant News Director for WDEL News Talk Radio, said.
Matthew T. Hall, Public Engagement Director for U-T San Diego, says wearables, especially Google Glass, can fundamentally change journalism.
Hernandez showed clips of Google Glass already in action. A VICE reporter live-streamed the streets of Ferguson in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown, and the wearable gave a raw perspective of the chaotic streets of the Missouri town.
“It’s a different way to capture a story and a different way for [the audience] to see it,” Cherry said.
The implications spread even deeper from there. While potential is boundless for these devices, there are ethical questions that are being raised by experts.
CNN News Futurist Victor Hernandez discussed the copyright and content ownership issues pertaining to third-party hardware and software via emerging technologies in the wearable space.
The current Google Terms of Service Agreement for user stipulates that the corporation may retain rights to user data and content accessed through certain Google services. Content ownership and access issues remain hazy for many of these products during these early days, which may present concerns for journalists hoping to incorporate the technology into their reporting.
“Could I take a picture of a person without them noticing?” Hernandez asked the audience. “What’s the ethical thing about that? I can capture any moment, which is incredibly powerful.”
Al Jazeera senior producer Paula Neudorf was glad she finally learned more about wearables given she works in the epicenter of tech.
The device, which remains in the beta stage, currently retails for $1,500.
As the future tides of technology seemingly trend toward these wearable products and their vast news reporting potentials, questions continue to linger for journalists about the value of experimenting with these devices. Will the investments made now, provide tangible difference in the future?
“A lot of these ideas aren’t fully baked, and there’s a lot of questions still being asked,” Victor explained. “But having that working knowledge is half the battle.”