Google's futuristic Glass headgear will be available before year's end. The device may well be the final step before human-machine interaction moves under our skin—but its wearers may trigger some undesired social reactions from friends and family members, and it may not go over too well at your local watering hole, either. In fact, judging from our early look, Google Glass won't be welcome in lots of places.
Google Glass consists of a small display situated on a frame that resembles eyeglasses. It is connected to a camera, microphone and bone-conducting speaker. Glass pairs with your smartphone wirelessly using Bluetooth, but also can use Wi-Fi to access the Internet. You can use your voice or your finger to get it to take photos, record video, initiate video or voice chats, send messages, search Google and translate words or phrases. Google's being a bit coy about the ship date for this groundbreaking wearable computer. However, while qualifying early adopters are paying $1,500 a pop for the privilege of owning it first, we're told that it will become more widely available by year's end—with a slightly more affordable price tag.
One of the reasons Glass will find itself unwelcome in places is because its camera lives at the wearer's eye level. It takes photos or record videos without a red blinking light telling others it's happening. Anywhere cameras and other recording devices are unwelcome, the same would most certainly go for Google Glass.
For starters, you can forget about taking Glass to Las Vegas.
"We've been dealing with the cellphone-videoing and the picture-taking over the years, and we are quick to make sure that that doesn't happen in the club," Peter Feinstein, managing partner of Sapphire Gentlemen's Club in Las Vegas, told NBC News, explaining that hosts check in any electronics a patron brings that could be used for filming.
"As the sale of [Google Glass] spreads, there'll be more people using them and wanting to use them at places such as a gentlemen's club," Feinstein explained. "If we see those in the club, we would do the same thing that we do to people who bring cameras into the club."
And if somebody refuses to doff his or her headset? "If they don't want to check it, we'd be happy to give them a limo ride back to their hotel," Feinstein says.
Casinos are another place where surreptitious recording equipment won't be welcome.
"Picture-taking is frowned upon, and security officers on duty ask individuals not to take pictures for the privacy of others in the casino," a spokesperson for MGM Resorts said. "This new product is nothing new in terms of a challenge for us, because for so many years, the very tiniest of portable lipstick and pinpoint cameras have been around."
She added that "resort security officers are trained to monitor for, and detect, anything that they suspect might be a filming device, and will ask the patron to discontinue shooting photos or filming."
We spoke to several other casinos and adult entertainment establishments—in and out of Las Vegas—and found a consensus: You are welcome, but your Google Glass must stay outside.
How about movie theaters?
"No recording devices (cameras, video recorders, sound recorders, etc.) are permitted to be used within any Regal Entertainment Group facility," the admittance procedures for the Regal Entertainment Group plainly state.
While a spokesperson for the group—as well as one for AMC Theaters—looked into the particular methods that may be used for dealing with Glass, no definitive answer was available.
We encountered a lot of that as we made calls for this piece: From the TSA to Bank of America, spokespeople were not yet ready to speak to the particulars of Google Glass but reiterated general statements about protecting the privacy and personal information of staff and customers alike.
And while businesses and agencies have an interest in controlling what goes on within their boundaries, a whole other area of Google Glass concern has to do with what happens in public places, where people of all ages congregate.
"My immediate concern for [Google Glass] was from a sexual predator viewpoint," Drew Donofrio, a private investigator who ran a computer crimes unit for 12 years at the Bergen County, N.J., police department, told NBC News. "Locker rooms, bathrooms, playgrounds ... all [Glass] requires is a line of sight."
"You can look innocent enough in line of sight when you're not holding up a camcorder," Donofrio said. "When you have this type of technology, it looks innocuous."
We reached out to parks and recreation departments across the country to see if they would treat Glass any differently than existing recording devices. Like others, park managements were not ready to make any official calls. Many did say that they will monitor the gadget's development and adjust policies if necessary in the future.