2013's Biggest Tech Moments

Google Glass
HowStuffWorks' own Jonathan Strickland got to give Google Glass a go. You can read about his adventures in this post. © Jonathan Strickland 2013

One of the chief problems with wearable electronics -- whether it's Google Glass or a smart watch -- lies in overcoming the dork factor. Your device may pack revolutionary potential, but if it looks like something Geordi La Forge's sister would wear in wood shop, you're done for. Landing a 12-page feature in Vogue's September issue was a coup for Google Glass, but it will take more than fashionista props to overcome that form factor, or the silliness of that head-twitching interface [source: Bilton].

Of greater concern, however, are privacy and ethical issues raised by a wearable camera and augmented reality device. Someone has already developed an app that enables users to take pictures by winking, and Lambda Labs is developing a facial recognition app [sources: Greenfield; Vaas]. Some states and municipalities have considered making the devices illegal. A woman in California has already been ticketed for driving while wearing a pair, under a "driving while monitor visible to driver" law [source: Abad-Santos].

Google has a lot riding on the gadget, including a patent that would enable the company to track what a user looks at and then charge real-world advertisers. In theory, Google Glass could display ads too, or superimpose virtual ads over real-world ones. Google Now, a function that tries to predict information a user wants before he or she searches for it, makes another likely match for the gadget [sources: Bilton; Bilton and Miller]. But will it catch on or become the Segway of eyewear? Only time will tell.