Google Offers Glass Etiquette Lessons for Users

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2014-02-19

Google Offers Glass Etiquette Lessons for Users

Google wants its Google Glass devices to prosper, so it just released a sort of "etiquette guide" online to help users avoid offending others when using Glass in public places.

Reports from around the nation have occasionally made headlines when bars, restaurants and other public facilities have posted signs inside their establishments banning the use of Google Glass due to privacy and other issues. A derogatory name for inconsiderate Glass users has even been inspired online—"Glassholes."

To prevent such problems, Google's etiquette guide for Glass Explorer users includes lists of "do's" and "don'ts" when it comes to using Glass devices around other people.

Since April 2013, when the first Glass devices began shipping to early users, dubbed "Glass Explorers," those users "have gotten a lot of attention when they wear Glass out and about," the guide states. "Reactions range from the curious—'Wow! Are those the Google glasses? How do they work?'—to the suspect—'Goodness gracious do those things see into my soul?' Luckily as the Explorer Community grows, so does their collective wisdom."

With all of those observations in mind, Google asked its existing Glass Explorers, numbering between 8,000 to 10,000, to provide their advice for using Glass so that their experiences are positive.

Here are the hints on the guide's "Do's" list:

Explore the world around you by using Glass to "engage with the world around you rather than look down and be distracted from it." It can also be used to "[h]ave a hangout with your friends, get walking directions to a fantastic new restaurant, or get an update on that delayed flight."

Take advantage of the Glass voice commands to "free your hands up to do other things like golfing, cooking, or juggling flaming torches while balancing on a beach ball," the guide states. "This is great for looking up how many ounces in a cup while you cook, or taking a one-of-a-kind photo from your unique perspective."

Ask for permission to use Glass when around other people or in a social setting, public place or other destination. "Standing alone in the corner of a room staring at people while recording them through Glass is not going to win you any friends. 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."

Use the screen lock on Glass to prevent others from using it without your permission. "If you ever lose your device or have it stolen by a budding online resale entrepreneur, you can turn off Glassware and perform a remote wipe (e.g. factory reset) of the device, removing all your information from the device. All you need to do is go to your MyGlass page on your browser, or the MyGlass App on your phone."

Be an active and vocal member of the Glass Explorer Community, where users can "give feedback, share content and communicate with the Glass team. It's been hugely successful over the past year and this is due to our wonderful group of Explorers. They are constantly sharing their worlds with us and with each other, allowing us to hear and work on all the great feedback and stories our Explorers give us (and, wow, do they give us a lot!)."

On the "don'ts" list, the advice is just as important in helping maintain peaceful relationships with others, according to the guide.

Don't "Glass-out," or be so enamored with them that you lose track of reality. "Glass was built for short bursts of information and interactions that allow you to quickly get back to doing the other things you love," the guide states. "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. So don't read War and Peace on Glass. Things like that are better done on bigger screens."

Google Offers Glass Etiquette Lessons for Users

Don't use Glass while participating in high-impact sports. "Glass is a piece of technology, so use common sense. Water skiing, bull riding or cage-fighting with Glass are probably not good ideas."

Don't wear Glass and expect to be ignored. "Let's face it, you're gonna get some questions. Be patient and explain that Glass has a lot of the same features as a mobile phone (camera, maps, email, etc.). Also, develop your own etiquette. If you're worried about someone interrupting that romantic dinner at a nice restaurant with a question about Glass, just take it off and put it around the back of your neck or in your bag."

And perhaps most important of all on the "don'ts" list, "don't be creepy or rude," the guide states. "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. In places where cell phone cameras aren't allowed, the same rules will apply to Glass. 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."

Google Glass has been a topic of conversation among techies since news of it first arrived in 2012. The first Google Glass units began shipping in April 2013 to developers who signed up at the June 2012 Google I/O conference to buy an early set for $1,500 for testing and development; it was the hit of the conference. Google also then began shipping Glass units to lucky users who have been selected in several promotions since then. Glass devices are still being used only by Explorers and are expected to go on sale to retail customers later in 2014.

Each Google Glass device includes adjustable nose pads and a high-resolution display that Google said is the equivalent of a 25-inch high-definition screen from 8 feet away. The glasses also feature a built-in camera that takes 5-megapixel photos and video at 720p. Audio is delivered to wearers through their bones, using bone-conduction transducers.

Glass and the technology behind them are certainly becoming more publicized on a weekly basis.

Earlier in February, Virgin Atlantic Airlines announced that it is using Google Glass to test how it and similar wearable computing innovations could help assist airline passengers from their arrival at an airport through boarding and departure, and even with in-flight experiences. The airline's six-week long Google Glass pilot project is now visible to passengers as they arrive at London Heathrow airport, where concierge staff in the airline's Upper Class Wing will be using Google Glass and other wearable technology to deliver personalized customer service.

Virgin's testing with Glass comes on the heels of a related experiment with Glass by the New York Police Department, which began trials in December to see how the devices could be used in police work. The devices have not yet been deployed in any actual field or patrol operations, but reviews are being done to see how they may be used in the future, according to the department.

The news that the NYPD is investigating possible uses for Google Glass is intriguing on its face, particularly because of several high-profile incidents involving the digital eyewear in the past six months.

In January 2014, a network administrator from Columbus, Ohio, was removed from a movie theater and questioned by federal authorities over concerns that he was using the Google Glass on his head to film a bootleg copy of the movie being shown in the theater. 

That followed the case of a California driver who was stopped for speeding in October 2013 and cited for speeding and for driving while wearing Google Glass.

At the same time, Google Glass is gaining acceptance in the marketplace, even before its official launch to consumers, which is expected sometime this year. In January 2014, Google announced a deal with eyewear and vision insurer VSP Global that will cover a portion of Google Glass frames and prescription lenses for its insurance customers.

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