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Google Glass Draws Stares, Privacy Concerns

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Brian New
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Is it the future of computers or technology that’s run amok?

Few new products have been talked about and debated as much as the Google Glass, a wearable computer that looks similar to pair of eyeglasses.

The “Glass” can do all the basic functions of a smartphone. The big difference is it’s not held your hand but on your face, much like a regular pair of glasses.

Google began limited sales of the Glass to the public this month, for $1,500 apiece. Previously, the wearable computer was only available on an invitation basis.

Michael Stancil, a tech-savvy Millennial, was one of the first in Dallas to receive an invitation from Google. He took up the offer and bought the Glass last year. And that, Stancil says, is when people began to stare whenever he wore the new device in public. “Most people just don’t know what it is.”

Stancil, who uses DART to commute to his office in downtown Dallas, uses his Glass to document what it’s like to live in the city without a vehicle.

“I think there are just moments that happen so fast that, if you weren’t able to just tap right here, you would miss it,” he said, pointing to the mini-computer strapped to his face.

The one place Stancil said he doesn’t get weird looks is at the office. At Buzzshift, a digital strategy agency, he’s not the only one who wears a computer.

“I would much rather have this in my face in a conversation with somebody, than constantly looking down at our phones,” said Cameron Gawley, CEO at Buzzshift.

For these self-proclaimed techies, the Glass seems like the logical next step from smartphones.

♦♦♦ WEB EXTRA: Behind the Scenes: Telling a Story… And Wearing It At The Same Time ♦♦♦

But others say it’s a step too far.

Dr. Janet Johnson, a social media expert at the University of Texas at Dallas, has been studying the public reaction to the Google Glass.

Johnson said much of the criticism is directed at the steep price, with others voicing concerns about protecting their privacy.

“We don’t know if you are videotaping or not?” she told CBS 11’s Brian New, as he wore the Glass. “We don’t know if you are catching a moment that we don’t want. We might be in public, but we still want to be private.”

Stancil said he expected some of the backlash, admitting even some of his close friends don’t like it when he wears his Glass.

On its website, Google offers an etiquette lesson for Glass wearers, saying “Don’t get snappy” and “Be polite,” when people stare and ask what’s on their face.

Stancil said whenever he notices someone becoming uncomfortable; he takes his Glass off or moves it to the top of his head.

“This might not be what we are all ready for,” he acknowledged, “but this is the trial-and-error” stage.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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