Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Venues Face Google Glass Adjustment

Google Glass is causing quite a stir, as well it should.

The Jetsons-esque technology has some swooning, others cringing. The flat-screen and the iPad have revolutionized entertainment, business, and drastically altered the look and feel of the conference and trade show industry. Perhaps Google Glass will be the next revolution, with people collecting business cards not on paper, not by scanning them with our smartphones, but simply with a look at a colleague's face.

It's an exciting, but scary notion.

In that cringing camp aren't just those with a technology aversion, but those with serious privacy concerns. The stunning product hasn't even been released yet (and it's not expected to be until 2014) but lawmakers are already demanding that Google address privacy concerns.

Las Vegas Casinos have pre-emptively banned the device, which connects to the internet and allows people to take pictures, send texts, and post to social media services. Perhaps most concerning of all is that the glasses will allow wearers to discreetly record video, which raises particular concerns for venue operators and event organizers.

Beyond Privacy

Beyond privacy concerns, others have waged war on the coming "dork" factor, coming up with some rather colorful nicknames for those would-be wearers of the glasses.

When I posted a discussion question about Google Glass on Linkedin, Ben Hays had perhaps the best description:

"Looks to me like a 12gig iPod, that you can wear on your face," he wrote.

You think it's annoying when your boss can't put down her smartphone now? Wait till they don't even have to show you that they're surfing the web or reading texts right in front of your face!

Will We Get Used To It?

But maybe it's just too new. After all, it wasn't long ago that we thought those wielding bulky car phone cases were the epitome of the super-dork. Brian Bauer, in a comment on that same Linkedin discussion, made a great point about the evolution of our perception of new technology.

"I don't think I would ever wear one but a lot of people looked strange when Bluetooth ear pieces came out," he wrote. "It's basically the visual equivalent. More of a mobile tool than an entertainment device."

If you're over 35 you surely remember the thrill of coming across a great bootlegged concert recording or, very rarely, a video. Maybe you tried to record one yourself, or were stopped at the gates only to have your recorder or camera confiscated.

What was once heavily enforced is now unenforceable. When's the last time you went to a concert that didn't feature a sea of phones hovering over the crowd recording high definition video of the event, most of them sure to go live on Youtube or Facebook within hours?

Venue operators will face a new round of questions, adjustments, and redefining of expectations once Google Glass comes around en masse. The ThunderTix blog discussed this in great detail last week, and it's a discussion our industry is going to have to take seriously, as our bet isn't going to be against technology.

Cameras on phones were considered an absurd toy not too long ago. Touchscreens were thought to be undependable. Right now, Google Glass seems ridiculous, but who knows? Five years from now, my head shot might look quite a bit different.

What are your thoughts on Google Glass and what it means for the industry? How does it scare you, and how do you think it can be used to enhance experiences? We'd love to here your thoughts!