In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, a 31-year-old U.S. man has been treated “Internet addiction disorder” triggered at least in part by Google Glass.
The patient, who was checked into the U.S. Navy’s Substance Abuse program and whose case appeared in the journal Addictive Behaviours, reportedly “exhibited problematic use of Google Glass,” wearing the device for up to 18 hours a day.
The man reported feeling irritable and aggressive when stripped of Google Glass’s help and told doctors that even in his dreams he looked out on the world through the small screen of the device.
Doctors also observed a "notable, nearly involuntary movement of the right hand up to [the patient’s] temple area and tapping it with his forefinger,” which was believed to be mimicking the gesture used to activate the display of Google Glass.
Dr Andrew Doan, co-author of the paper and head of the U.S. Navy’s Substance Abuse and Recovery Programme (Sarp), said the patient was clearly “going through withdrawal from his Google Glass,” the Guardian reported.
Doctors reported that the man also had a "history of mood disorder [...] overlaying a depressive disorder, anxiety disorder [and] severe alcohol and tobacco use disorders."
Google Glass: Everything you need to know
Google Glass: Everything you need to know
Think of Glass as having a smartphone on your face. You control it either using voice commands (eg, 'Okay Glass, directions to British Museum') or the touch panel on the right arm (eg, swipe down to go back in any menu). It can shoot video and photos without connecting to the internet but you need to connect to the web via a smartphone or Wi-Fi to use apps (dubbed 'Glassware). Google hopes it's the future (ie you'll be using Google all the time), others think it's just too geeky or creepy to ever take off.
Glass is about as powerful as a mid-range smartphone with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of memory slotted into the right arm of the frame. The prism-style screen has a resolution of 640 by 360 and sound is conveyed either by a bone conduction speaker (using vibrations into your skull) or using an earphone. The camera has a five-megapixel resolution and can shoot video at 720p. There's also a proximity sensor to turn it on automatically when picked up. Engineers have estimated that the innards cost around £100 with Google's R&D accounting for the rest of the cost.
3/6 Glass in the UK
Anyone in the UK over 18 and with £1000 burning a hole in their pocket can buy Glass. It's available online or through Google's London 'Basecamp' - essentially a fitting station to give you an introduction to the technology (that's the LA one on the left, expect London's to be less sunny). Glass has launched with five apps (known as 'Glasware' in the UK) including a running 'audio game', a star map and a news app from The Guardian.
The location of Glass's screen in the top right of users' vision has led to complaints of headaches. Experts say that the display is in one of the least comfortable areas of humans' field of vision (early prototypes put the screen directly in front of the ye but was too obstructive), although Google says that its only a problem for a small number of users: “Glass is designed for micro-interactions, not for staring into the screen, watching Friday night movie marathons or reading War and Peace.”
Google has been keen to market Glass as a fashionable product, placing the device on catwalks and between the covers of Vogue. The company has partnered with Luxottica (owner of the Ray-Ban brand) as well as designer Diane von Fürstenberg to make special frames. Google's own designs are known as the Titanium Series (left) with perscription lenses costing extra. However, this association with the catwalk has done nothing to shake the criticism that Glass - and its price tag - are elitist.
6/6 Using Glass
Google has partnered with everyone from doctors to engineers to show how Glass can be useful - essentially by helping people in high-pressure professions who need hands-free access to information on the spot. However, this isn't an argument for Glass becoming a consumer product. Advocates of Glass say that it takes away a layer between technology and peoples' lives - and while this may be useful some of the time it's hardly a killer application. Besides, having to make a conscious decision to look at our smartphones may actually help us look at them less. If there's no separation between reality and tech, why would ever put the latter away?
The navy serviceman used the wearable computer in his work to quickly inventory convoy vehicles, with Dr Doan explaining that the constant presence of the device had created an association between its use and a neurological reward.
“There’s nothing inherently bad about Google Glass,” said Doan. “It’s just that there is very little time between these rushes. So for an individual who’s looking to escape, for an individual who has underlying mental dysregulation, for people with a predisposition for addiction, technology provides a very convenient way to access these rushes.
“And the danger with wearable technology is that you’re allowed to be almost constantly in the closet, while appearing like you’re present in the moment.”
Psychiatrists however are still debating whether or not ‘internet addiction’ via smartphones and computers exists as a clinical disorder, with the classification omitted from the 2013 version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – often referred to as the ‘psychiatrist’s Bible’.
“People used to believe alcoholism wasn’t a problem – they blamed the person or the people around them,” said Dr Doan. “It’s just going to take a while for us to realise that this is real.”Reuse content