Google to Glass users: please do not be creepy!

Steven Loeb · February 18, 2014 · Short URL:

Users should not play sports with them on, should respect establishments that ban electronics

There's no official launch date for it yet, but it's a good bet that we will be seeing Google Glasses all over the place within the next few months. The device should make the world a more interesting place... and maybe a skeevier one as well.

Ever since the device was announced, people have been talking pretty openly about how uncomfortable they feel about people wearing them, with issues over security and privacy frequently coming up. For every, "Wow, this thing can do cool things!" that you hear, there is at least one, "Yeah, but are you recording me right now?"

Google is, of course, aware of the perception that is out there, and so it has decided to release an etiquette guide for Glass users. It is a list of "do's" and "don'ts" that should make the experience better for everyone.


What Google wants its users to do is use the device to explore the world, as well as be able to access their computers without using their hands. 

"Glass puts you more in control of your technology and frees you to look up and engage with the world around you rather than look down and be distracted from it," the company wrote. "Have a hangout with your friends, get walking directions to a fantastic new restaurant, or get an update on that delayed flight."

Google also Glass users to protect themselves by using a screen lock, which will password protect it, and to give feedback to the Explorer Program, which is a place where users can give feedback, share content and communicate with the Glass team.

Those are all fine and dandy, and they feature some good advice from Google on how to best take advantage of the device. But there is thing on the list that should rank above all others: "ask permission."

"Standing alone in the corner of a room staring at people while recording them through Glass is not going to win you any friends," Google said. "The Glass camera function is no different from a cell phone so behave as you would with your phone and ask permission before taking photos or videos of others."

There's nothing that Google can do about this type of behavior, per se, but it gets to the heart of what makes so many people feel uneasy about the device.


Google is warning its users against wearing Glass during high impact sports, because they will probably break, as well as sitting and staring at the screen all day, closing yourself off from everything around them.

"Glass was built for short bursts of information and interactions that allow you to quickly get back to doing the other things you love. If you find yourself staring off into the prism for long periods of time you’re probably looking pretty weird to the people around you," said Google.

"So don’t read War and Peace on Glass. Things like that are better done on bigger screens."

Google is also warning users that they should not expect everyone to leave them alone. Let's face it: the technology is new, it looks kind of goofy and people are going to ask questions. Deal with it, and don't be a jerk to people.

"Respect others and if they have questions about Glass don’t get snappy. Be polite and explain what Glass does and remember, a quick demo can go a long way," said Google.

That also means respecting the rules of establishments that do not allow cell phones or other electronic devices.

"If you’re asked to turn your phone off, turn Glass off as well. Breaking the rules or being rude will not get businesses excited about Glass and will ruin it for other Explorers."

All in all, I'd say this was pretty sound advice.

Privacy concerns

Concerns over user privacy were expressed pretty quickly, including the U.S. government, and regular people as well.

survey conducted by Rackspace, and Goldsmiths at the University of London in June of last year found that more than half, 51%, of people have some concern over the issue of privacy when it comes to "wearable technology."

In addition, 61% of respondents said that wanted the devices to regulated, and a full 20% said that they thought that Google Glass should be banned altogether.

This survey was taken before the Edward Snowden leaks, and I have to believe that concerns over privacy have only gotten worse since then.

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