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Before Google Glass is released, it's already banned

Seattle bar tells customers it's a 'No Google Glass Zone' well ahead of release

March 11, 2013 03:29 PM ET

Computerworld - Before an official pair has even been released, a Seattle cafe has banned customers from wearing Google's computerized eye glasses inside the business.

While some restaurants have a "No shirt, no shoes, no service," policy, Seattle's 5 Points Cafe and Bar has a no Google Glass policy.

Sergey Brin wearing Google Glass
Google co-founder and CEO Sergey Brin models a Google Glass headpiece. He would not be allowed to wear the device in Seattle's 5 Point Cafe.

The cafe said in a Monday blog post, "If you're one of the few who are planning on going out and spending your savings on Google Glasses -- what will for sure be a new fad for the fanny-pack wearing, never removing your bluetooth headset-wearing crowd -- plan on removing them before you enter The 5 Point. The 5 Point is officially a No Google Glass zone."

It seems the cafe got a bit of pushback from people may be looking forward to wearing Glass devices while enjoying a cocktail.

One commenter wrote, "Thank God I live in Florida. If I did live in Seattle, I would probably be the first person to violate your ban and let nature take its course. How you can you ban something ahead of its release?"

Another called the cafe "paranoid."

In response, the cafe's management wrote, in part, "Sorry for another post on Google Glasses, but I have to address some of the people mad about our Google Glass ban... If nothing else, we're saving you from looking like a complete idiot in public. You'll be thankful in a few years when your kids grow up and don't have to see photos of you wearing these ridiculous things."

Google is still developing its Glass technology, which is designed to enable users to take photos, shoot video, pull up maps and share images and information on social networks. A transparent interface over the right eye shows options, and the device is manipulated using voice control.

The bar's owner, David Meinert, was unavailable for comment.

Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group, said the cafe may get a lot of publicity for banning Glass but added that it doesn't make a lot of sense to take such a position.

"It's quite a surprise to see places ban them before they've even been publicly released," said Olds. "From a practical standpoint, the folks who want to ban Glass would have to ban other devices too if they want to remain consistent. Any phone today can take pictures and record sound almost without detection."

Olds said that, with so many people walking around with smartphones and so many businesses tracking customers' comings and goings, it's a bit late to worry about protecting people's privacy by banning technologies that record audio and video -- even technologies that can do the recording as surreptitiously, and in such an automated fashion, as computerized glasses.

"I'm as creeped out as anyone when I think about someone's glasses automatically recording my every move around them," he added. "But I think that this particular Pandora's box is already open and will be impossible to lock back up."

A few weeks ago, Google put out a call for people to apply to be part of a group of a few thousand who will initially test Glass. Called "explorers," the testers were asked to tell Google how they would use the technology.

Being a tester isn't just a matter of coming up with a good plan for using Google Glass; explorers will be required to shell out $1,500 a piece for a test device, and they'll have to pay to attend a special "pick-up experience" in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles.

The deadline for applying to be an explorer has passed, and Google has not yet said when it will announce the winners.

covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter, at Twitter @sgaudin, and on , or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed Gaudin RSS. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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