Living with Google Glass, Day Three: Security Checkpoint

You might be inclined to think that airport security is not the best place to wear Google Glass. You'd probably be right, but given the amount that I travel it was pretty-well inevitable that I'd cross through some security checkpoint before the course of this testing would be through.

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I'm honored to be part of the XPRIZE Visioneering conference this week, a gathering of incredible minds putting their considerable brainpower behind the creation of competitions to make the world a better place. But, to take part I'd have to get out to California, and that meant yet another long flight across the country -- and another trip through the full-body scanner. The question is, how would the folks at airport security react to it?

As it turns out, with curiosity. At 4:30 in the morning, few of my line-mates were awake or adventurous enough to ask about Glass, but the first security person I passed did. She'd never heard of Glass. When I told her what it could do -- take pictures, video, get navigation, even read emails -- her response was "Get out!"

The other security guards were similarly intrigued, but in a friendly, curious way. I of course passed them through the scanner along with all my other circuitry, though I almost forgot to do so. I had, in the course of barely more than a day, already become so used to wearing Glass that I had to be reminded to put it in a bin. You can experience that moment, along with the thrilling process of my shoe removal, in the video above. (Note: In case you're wondering, yes, it is legal to film in a security checkpoint so long as you don't record the computer monitors or interfere with the jobs of the security workers. I was very careful to do neither.)

This feels like a good opportunity to talk about the security of Glass itself, which is a somewhat complicated subject. Some aspects are quite good. Others are quite poor. Let's start with the bad: there's no way to prevent someone from picking up your headset, putting it on, and reading your email. They could also reply, make a call, take a lewd photo and upload it to Google+ ... you get the idea.

There's no concept of a secure unlock on Glass, which must be considered at least mildly disconcerting. Then again, it's difficult to envision an unlock method that is simple and quick enough to not kill the Glass experience. Voice recognition seems like the obvious solution, but talking to the thing every time you put it on would be a bother. A retinal scanner sure would be nice. Shame it doesn't have one.

Living with Google Glass, Day Three Security Checkpoint

Other aspects of security are, thankfully, more comprehensive. Sign in to the MyGlass app and you can see on a map exactly where your headset is, which must be a sure sign such functionality is finally coming to Android phones soon. While you aren't able to deactivate a headset remotely (though Google can), you are at least able to factory reset the thing from afar.

So, while Glass seems perfectly capable of handling the scary situation of someone stealing your headset and running away with it, it's rather less able to fend off the office prankster who might post a picture of their posterior to your Google+ account.

Next time we'll talk photo quality, call quality and, most importantly, take you inside the helmet for a gorgeous ride up the coast. Assuming the battery life lasts long enough, that is.