On Saturday, I attended a live performance at a local repertory theater. A friend and I walked over to the theater from a nearby restaurant and I had Glass with me. Out of curiosity, I wore Glass into the theater when I collected my tickets, past the ushers taking tickets, and past the usher helping patrons find their seats, all without anyone seeming to notice. I had no intention of wearing them during the show because they would have been a distraction for me. But, if they were also prescription lens (they are not, at the time, I had no lenses in them), I may have wanted to wear them. Prior to the show, I took the above photo using the vignette feature. As is standard, an announcement was made prior to the show that photography during the show was not allowed; however, no one asked me to remove Glass or even seemed concerned I was wearing them. I put them away on my own to watch the show. Had I worn them during the show, someone may have asked questions, but I got the feeling they would have just politely asked me to remove them. Later in the day, I heard the news of a patron of an Ohio movie theater being questioned by Homeland Security.
This news was surprising to me. I know people have a lot of concerns over privacy and I can somewhat see those concerns. Others have concerns over distracted driving. I get that too. However, pirating movies using Glass seems ridiculous to me. First, the battery on Glass couldn’t handle recording an entire movie. But, if you didn’t know that, it is still pretty obvious that you are wearing Glass. Why would someone draw that attention to themselves if they were going to “secretly” record the movie? In addition, it is quite easy for a Glass user to show all the recent uses of Glass (including any photos or videos they may have taken). But, should they have to? I’m sure nearly every movie goer in that same theater had a cell phone in their pocket capable of doing exactly what Glass can do. Were their cell phones searched?
I know that these stories don’t give us every detail. Maybe the patron was belligerent and caused other concerns beyond Glass. I don’t know. I understand there isn’t a lot of people fully educated on Glass yet and that is a risk I assume when using them. But, I’m troubled that a person could be potentially detained and questioned by Homeland Security simply for wearing Glass. I hope there was more to the story than were put out in the media.
It’s interesting that hidden cameras have been around for decades. I worked for an television news service back in the late 90s that used hidden cameras frequently for investigative reports. One was hidden in a necktie and one in a baseball cap. In my opinion, these cameras were far more ethically questionable than Glass, but were legal (and I might add significantly cheaper). I was never one to use the hidden cameras, but those that did were well educated by our legal counsel on how and when they could use them legally.
I’m also reminded of an incident I witnessed at the White House a few years ago. A person was denied entry to the public White House tour because they had a camera with them. The White House makes it very clear well before you get to security that cameras are not allowed. However, several people in the same group were allowed admittance even though they had cell phones that had cameras. Maybe the White House has revised their policy since that incident, but at the time, it seemed equally ridiculous.
We know the widespread use of wearable technology is inevitable, whether it be glasses, a watch, whatever, but aren’t the current laws already equipped to handle such technology? Whereas, Google acknowledges that laws will have to be revised or rewritten to allow mass use of their self-driving cars, when has it become illegal to wear a cell phone on your face?
So, I’m curious as to why the uproar over Glass when it incorporates no technology capabilities that didn’t already exist? Is it a need for educating the public? Is it a distrust of Google? What do you think?