Google Glass has a lot of potential, but some may feel that Google is squandering said potential with its heavy handed regulation. The company has already banned porn and facial recognition apps from being developed for the device. Before Google can ban more capabilities, one developer wants to free Glass from Google’s reach.
NPR reports that Stephen Balaban, a developer out of San Francisco, has re-engineered his Google Glass with a new operating system. Unlike Google’s OS for Glass, Balaban’s OS allows any and all kinds of apps. His end goal is to create an OS that “runs on Glass but is not controlled by Google.”
Balaban is creating the custom OS because he’s already run afoul of Google’s policies when his employer, Lambda Labs, tried to submit a facial recognition app. Instead of just packing up and going home, however, he decided to create a custom OS that would let developers do anything with Google Glass.
Balaban’s heart is in the right place, but some people are not going to be very happy about it. Google is already dealing with accusations that Glass in its current state is a massive infringement of privacy, and custom operating systems will only make Glass critics even more worried.
In fact, Congress has even started to ask questions regarding what Google intends to do to protect privacy in the age of Glass. A custom operating system would make Google’s efforts to regulate Glass a moot point, and Congress could take that as an excuse to regulate the hardware. Google certainly doesn’t want that, and the people making custom operating systems don’t want that either.
We’re still months away from Google Glass’ public debut. Before that, Google can work with its developer partners to find a way for Glass to protect privacy while letting developers go nuts. Whether that means Google relaxing its policies remains to be seen, but it couldn’t hurt.