You Wouldn't Hit a Guy with (Google) Glasses, Would You?

Jonathan Strickland


The future's so bright, I gotta wear augmented reality glasses that pull data from the cloud and overlay it on top of the physical world around me. Sure, it's not as catchy as a song by Timbuk3, but it's accurate. I love the idea of pulling down data to enhance my experience in meatspace. I do it all the time with my phone but that's still a clunky experience and it takes my eyes off my surroundings. I'm excited about Google Glass -- a pair of those could let me stroll around and keep alert while also drawing in extra information.

Besides giving you a new way to look at the world around you, Google Glass lets you preserve moments. The gadgets have an embedded camera in them that let you take photos and videos from your point of view. It's one step closer to looking at the world through the eyes of someone else. It could help people capture moments they might otherwise miss.

Beyond that, you don't need to look at a screen while you're capturing video. Just keep looking ahead. That means you won't miss the moment for yourself while you're capturing it for everyone else. I'd love the chance to watch an exciting moment in, say, a professional wrestling match (I'm an unapologetic fan) without having to experience it through the screen or viewfinder of the camera I'm using to record the moment.

But this feature has caused concern among some folks. What if someone wearing a pair of Google Glass records video of the people around them without those people being aware of it? It's natural to be worried about privacy with any technology that links you with a physical location. But what if it links other people too? Even if the person wearing Google Glass is okay with their life being recorded -- or maybe even broadcast -- that doesn't mean everyone else is cool with it too.

One business has already taken the step to say Google Glass wearers will not be welcome. That's the 5 Point Cafe in Seattle, a dive bar where the clientele aren't necessarily crazy about the idea of being on video. The cafe's owner, Dave Meinert, said in an interview that the ban is part joke, part serious business. He takes the privacy of his patrons seriously. And while you might not be subjected to a "kicking," as suggested on the cafe's Facebook page, don't be surprised if you're asked to leave if you stroll in wearing Google Glass.

I imagine this won't be the last establishment to outright ban the gadgets. Many places already have policies against patrons taking photos or video. And while there's a light on Google Glass devices that indicates whether or not the camera is recording, there's always a worry that someone will disable that light, cover it up or it will just stop working and then no one can be sure if the camera is recording or not.

Eventually, I'm pretty sure we'll develop our own social rules about using devices like Google Glass. There are times when we understand it's not appropriate to whip out a smartphone and start recording, after all. And I'd be surprised if bans slow down the progress of Google Glass. Mostly, I can't wait to get a pair for myself so that I can learn even more about the world around me. And maybe catch it on video when no one is looking.