While there is plenty of excitement on how Google Glass will end up in defining the wearable computing technology, its presence may not always be welcomed even among the most tech-forward crowd. Google will not only need to educate consumers on how to use Google Glass and some of the benefits that an always-on, always-connected piece of eyewear with a heads-up display that will help to augment your reality, but the Android-maker will also need to ease society into accepting Google Glass as a tool.
The problem with Google Glass is that the cameras are mounted into the experience. With heightened awareness over privacy, and Google already being such a pervasive part of many people’s lives with their Internet patterns, Google may face an uphill battle getting welcomed at many public places, which may limit the usefulness of the Glass if people have to constantly take them off and put them back on their heads depending on where they’re going through the day.
“One of the reasons Glass will find itself unwelcome in places is because its camera lives at the wearer’s eye level,” says Rosa Golijan of NBC News. “It takes photos or record videos without a red blinking light telling others it’s happening.”
Here are the top 10 places that may not be so welcoming of Google Glass:
- Banks, Casinos, and other financial institutions: For security reasons, banks and casinos may not want you to record the floorplan, scope out where the security cameras are, and then try to pull an Ocean’s 11-style heist.
- Museums: While museums may exist to educate consumers and expose them to art, sculpture, natural history, and other artifacts, there are still issues with rights and ownership of the artwork. Permanent exhibits and permanent collections may freely be photographed, but all museums ban photography and videography from special visiting collections due to agreements with the original owners of those pieces.
- Strip clubs: Breaking news lately are strip clubs vocalizing their displeasure for Google Glass at their establishments. You’re there to patronize the entertainment, not take them home. As such, and with the case of casinos, you can forget about taking Google Glass with you to document the debauchery at your next bachelor party.
- Government buildings: After the tragedy of 9-11 in the U.S., there are heightened security at government institutions. Likely, you won’t be permitted into a courtroom, government office, or federal building with a recording device, and that includes Google Glass.
- Hospitals: With so many malpractice lawsuits in the U.S., recording the birth of your first-born is already prohibited by many hospitals and doctors. Likely, with half-opened hospital garments and sick people wanting to stay off camera, hospitals will not appreciate your eyes into the medical world to document what’s going on. It will get in the way of doctors and nurses providing care, it will disturb the sick, and if you’re really curious as to what happens, you should tune into the Discovery Channel or your favorite medical drama.
- Movie theater: This is a no-brainer. Hollywood has been going after pirates with force in recent years, and allowing Google glass into your favorite cineplex would be like a get out of jail ticket to record all the shows before they come out on DVD.
- Classrooms: While there are definitely cases for enhanced learning with the use of Google Glass as a technology, at the end of the day, it’s about copyright, content, and ownership rights. Just like museums and movie theaters, schools and colleges as well as teachers and professors all feel that they have the right to ‘own’ the curriculum and they may not be too pleased with students recording lectures and posting them online. Sure, we’ve gone a long way with distance education and iTunes U, but the reality is that some institutions want you to pay them per credit to attend and gain that knowledge.
- Tests and exams: This one should be obvious–the SATs, the legal and medical BAR exams, and other standardized testing places will just say no to Google Glass. Not only can you record the exam questions and distribute them to others after you’re done with your exam, but the ubiquitous access to information also opens the doors to cheating. Why not look that information up on Wikipedia or chat with your neighbor in a collaborative effort online to find the answer to the exam question?
- Restaurants: With fickle chefs already controlling their menus, the next venue for control is the dining experience. A few New York City restaurants are already banning photography at the table, claiming that their food is meant to be enjoyed while it’s warm and not for foodies to take ten minutes to snap some Instagram pictures so their plates are practically chilled on ice by the time those patrons take their first bites. And then add to the fact that flash photography is distracting to other diners, photography at fine dining establishment is slowly being pushed out. And that doesn’t end with restaurants either. One Seattle, Washington bar had already banned Google Glass, citing privacy concerns.
- Gym: Gyms and fitness facilities will not be too kind on members coming in to work out and use the changing facilities with Google Glass. No one wants to be caught on camera after a Thanksgiving meal looking sweaty, and even more so no one wants to look that way nude while being recorded by a not so hidden Google Glass camera.
- Work: If you work with sensitive information, financial information, medical information, or anything related to national security, don’t even expect to bring Google Glass into your office of employment. Many of these places already ban personal cell phones, cameras, and other recording devices, and the same will apply to Google Glass.
And while Google Glass, which is slated to debut by the end of the year for under the $1500 price that Google is asking developers today, may not be openly welcomed in these settings today, things may change in a few years. Remember when cell phones were banned? And then it was camera phones that were banned at work?
It wasn’t that long ago when smartphone-maker BlackBerry, formerly known as Research in Motion, created two variants of every phone they made. One version had a camera for consumers to use and snap photos, and another variant would be camera-free to appease government agencies and corporations that prohibited cameras on campus. While those days are seemingly gone–cameras on phones are now deemed a good thing as users can quickly document things, scan paperwork, and capture information easily. It’s efficient and could speed up the workflow.
Perhaps, in another five years or a decade, Google Glass will be more welcomed as society better understands its needs and utility. Still, even then, don’t expect your favorite casinos, strip clubs, or gyms to welcome the voyeuristic possibility that Glass may bring. And when that day comes, be prepared to accept the benefits of always having access to this augmented reality, but be prepared for your reality to potentially always be recorded by your neighbors, family, friends, colleagues, and strangers as you star in your own Truman Show.