Ereaders and eBooks are a commonplace thing now. Just about everyone has a smartphone, tablet or computer and can access eBooks in some format or other. We see a steady stream of eBooks being taken “out” of our library through OverDrive, and those are just our patrons who use the free eBooks. There are probably plenty more patrons who purchase eBooks as well. It’s a great way to read books, whether you use it for travel or just an easy way to pick up that 400-pager before bed.
Recently, I read an article wondering about the coming of hands-free books and how it would impact our society. Author and social media manager at CNET, Nathan Bransford, had an idea about the new Google Glass device and the possibilities of hands-free books. Haven’t heard of Google Glass? You can read more here, but essentially, they are an experimental device–a wearable computer–that will act as a recording device, a camera, an information center and entertainment piece….all under the guise of a simple pair of glasses. The Google Glass is still in the development stages, but Google has started a project where it is loaning out the glasses to people who presented them with creative ideas about how they would use them. So, we’ll have to see if this moves to a stage where everyone can purchase a pair and start using them!
Now, the concept of reading on the Google Glass is something Mr. Bransford was concerned about, but for different reasons. The viewing area is apparently quite small, and wouldn’t work well for doing a lot of reading. He was most excited about the thought of being able to read (hands-free) while walking or traveling on the train. It really is an interesting concept, one where you might control flipping the pages with a blink of an eye or some other simple gesture.
But as some of his readers pointed out, there are implicit dangers here. Of course, we’re thinking of using this as a reading device in the best possible ways, but what about people who will try to read while driving? (You know someone will do this!) Even the idea of reading while walking could have HUGE problems, with people not being aware enough of their surroundings already when they walk with iPods or other listening devices etc. There are just so many applications where using the glasses would be dangerous.
The Google Glass is very well designed, so much so that it isn’t all that noticeable when a person has them on. They could easily be mistaken for a regular pair of glasses. The possibilities here for reading are probably very real, and it’s only a matter of time before someone develops an idea to make books available for people who will own them. But along with using common sense, there should probably be some safeguards so that they won’t be misused. What do you think? Would reading a book hands-free using a device like Google Glass be something you’d want to try?