The news: A 31-year-old alcoholic and U.S. Navy service member was able to receive treatment for his difficulties with the bottle this year, but another habit proved harder to kick: Google Glass. According to doctors, round-the-clock Glass use had the man addicted to the wearable computer.
Here's how The Guardian described the unnamed man, who originally checked into the Navy's Substance Abuse and Recovery Programme (SARP) in November 2013:
Doctors noticed the patient repeatedly tapped his right temple with his index finger. He said the movement was an involuntary mimic of the motion regularly used to switch on the heads-up display on his Google Glass.
[Dr. Andrew Doan] said the patient used Google Glass to improve his performance at work, where he was able to quicken his job of making inventories of convoy vehicles for the navy.
By the time the patient checked into the facility, he was suffering from involuntary movements, cravings, memory problems and dreaming as if he was wearing the glasses. When he was not wearing them he felt irritable and argumentative.
Fortunately, 35 days later the man "felt less irritable, was making fewer compulsive movements to his temple, and his short-term memory had improved."
But probably just a few. Whether or not you can even be addicted to the Internet remains a hotly contested matter that challenges long-standing beliefs on what comprises an addiction. When it comes to wearable computers, the line is even blurrier.
Wired's Mat Honan spent an entire year wearing Glass at every available opportunity and emerged with a new-found appreciation of how using smartphones constantly distracts people from what's going on around them. But the experience also showed him how technology can enhance everyday life. "Its form will encourage new functions, new ideas, new realities," he wrote. "Google Glass and its ilk are coming. They are racing toward us, ready to change society, again."
Part of that change might entail people tapping their temples repeatedly when they're disconnected from their eye-computers (which, again, is really creepy). But along with the frightening side effects of new technology come the opportunities afforded us by augmented reality; while Glass is mostly now a plaything of the rich, one day we'll all be goggle-wearing cyborgs using them to work, play and connect.
Why you should care: Some day in the future this could happen to you. Though, to be honest, the fate that befell the unnamed sailor is an extreme case of technological addiction. While people who don't know when to tune out will always be a problem, wearable computers are probably more likely to enhance your everyday life than control it.
For your own sake, though, don't wear Glass 24 hours a day. Even if you don't get addicted, you'll run the risk of creeping people.