Wearable Tech World Feature Article
September 08, 2014

Cyborg Unplug Spots Google Glass Before You Can

While Google Glass has made a lot of friends in business recently, offering the ability to access information hands-free and put same to work, the same can't be said for regular individual users. With bans going up on the devices in bars, theaters, and even potentially on public roadways, Google Glass seems to be losing ground before it even really goes into wide release. But a new device revolving around a basic piece of software may show just how much trouble Google Glass is really in on the private user front, and it's called Cyborg Unplug.

Cyborg Unplug is essentially the device form of a bit of software that came out earlier this summer from Berlin artist and coder Julian Oliver. Oliver created Glasshole.sh, a program that could not only detect Google Glass devices attempting to connect to a local Wi-Fi network, but also remove said devices from the network in question. Exciting enough, particularly to the do it yourself (DIY) crowd that hated Google Glass enough to ban it from an establishment, but now with Cyborg Unplug, it's entirely possible for even those without a lot of technological savvy to put the concept to work.

The device—which goes into the pre-order stage later this month—basically allows users to plug a device into any handy wall socket and do what Glasshole.sh would do; ban Google Glass devices from a local network. Cyborg Unplug measures about the same size as a standard laptop charger, fitting easily most anywhere. Once the Cyborg Unplug detects a Google Glass, it won't necessarily stop at disconnecting, either, but also may flash an LED light, play a sound if speakers are attached, and even potentially ping the Cyborg Unplug user's smartphone. There are set to be two different versions of the device, however, including the “Little Snipper” at $50 which has the LED blinker, but also “the Axe,” an $85 version that comes with the various extras.

Cyborg Unplug doesn't just work on Glass, either; reports suggest it can also tackle drone copters that work on Wi-Fi, some breeds of wireless microphone, and even Google Dropcam as well. Oliver offers up a bit of background, saying “Basically it’s a wireless defense shield for your home or place of work. The intent is to counter a growing and tangibly troubling emergence of wirelessly capable devices that are used and abused for surveillance and voyeurism.” However, even Oliver notes that some uses of Cyborg Unplug aren't exactly on the up-and-up; an “all out mode” allows Cyborg Unplug to completely disconnect Google Glass, even from the user's personal network.

Google reportedly declined comment on Cyborg Unplug's existence, and this does a decent job of showing just what kind of situation this is in. While there's a lot of value in Google Glass—the navigation features alone are worth the price of admission—there's also a lot of concern about people having a potentially always-on camera transmitting. While that's not such a problem for the business user, who may never actually see a person or may have certain laws detailing how recordings can be used, for the personal user that can be a big problem, and further shows how this particular branch of wearable technology may not get off the ground, ultimately.

Still, there's likely some time to go before this part of wearable technology gets fired up in earnest, and when it does, we'll get to see just how the market will react. Will it be Google Glass that comes out on top...or Cyborg Unplug?

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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