Google Glass: The future of event tech, or disruptive technology?

Google Glass Illustration

There has been a lot of debate about the pros and cons of Google’s latest innovative gadget, Glass. Much of the discussion has involved concerns over privacy and the value-added, if any, of wearing your mobile device versus holding it. These are legitimate questions, but we wanted to look at Glass through the prism of events which present unique challenges.

The ability to seamlessly record and share event experiences is exciting, and led to internal discussions at Attendify about designing a version of our event apps for Glass.  There are certainly scenarios where Glass can be used at events in a positive way, recording sessions, snapping badges, taking notes (just to name a few), but it’s hard to overlook the glaring downside – Google Glass can disrupt interpersonal experiences.

When focusing on the screen within Glass, user concentration shifts in a very noticeable way, disrupting conversations, and in the context of events creating a very awkward interaction with someone you may have just met. This “glassing out” creates an unobtrusive, invisible experience for the user, but means surrounding individuals are distanced, pushed-away.

Imagine someone “glassing out” during a networking event to look up your bio, chattering to themselves as they shift focus.  In a recent NPR article, the author quotes a colleague who refused the opportunity to interact with a Glass user, saying: “Look, even if he isn’t going to surreptitiously take my picture, it’s as if he’s poised to put me on call-waiting if anything interesting comes in on his Twitter feed.”

The separation of focus interrupts the experience of being present in conversations and activities,  the opposite of what most event professionals want to encourage. Clemi Hardie, from Noodle Live, got it right: event professionals need event tech that is enabling, not disruptive.

While most places that have already banned Glass prior to launch are doing so on the basis of privacy rights, including Google itself, we may soon see “Glass-free” zones, parties or events, helping facilitate the kind of uninterrupted, interpersonal experiences most of us want.

Glass is a sign of the coming boom in wearable-tech, but its obvious we have a lot left to figure out… How do you feel about Google Glass? How do you think Google Glass will help or hurt events?