It has been a few months since Google Glass was banned from a shop, bar, or public bathroom. Sure, it made headlines due to problems on the road and mysteries at sea, but the early controversy regarding its use in the real world had subsided. Until that is, an engineer named Nick Starr walked into the Lost Lake Cafe in Seattle last week. Well, almost walked in.
Starr was wearing Google Glass, and while browsing the menu, was told by the manager the glasses would either have to be removed and put away, or he’d have to leave. Starr asked to see where it was written that he couldn’t wear Glass in the cafe, but this couldn’t be provided. He claims to have been in the cafe wearing Glass on previous occasions, and never encountering a problem.
The Lost Lake Cafe is co-owned by David Meinert, who also owns the 5 Point Cafe in Seattle. Long time Glass watchers will recall this establishment as one of the first to ban Google Glass, saying at the time, “Ass kickings will be encouraged for violators.” Despite the crossover, at the time there was no official ban on Glass, but Starr left anyway.
Quick, to the social networks!
Instead of it being left there, Starr took to both Facebook and Google+ to talk about his experience. He pointed out the Lost Lake Cafe’s request for visitors to Instagram photos using the hashtag #LostLake, indicating photos taken with smartphones weren’t a problem. He ended his comment with a request for an explanation or apology, and if the staff member was in the wrong, they should lose some pay or be ritually sacrificed sacked.
Strangely, Lost Lake didn’t like this, and clarified on its own Facebook page that Glass is banned, and no video equipment could be used to record anyone. “If we ask you to leave,” the post concluded, “Don’t start yelling about your rights, just shut up and get out before you make things worse.”
Meinert spoke to Forbes on the situation, saying, “It’s about privacy, we want our customers to feel comfortable, not like they’re being watched.” As for Starr’s request to fire the manager if they were in the wrong, Meinert’s business partner Jason Lajeunesse said, “Right or wrong, there’s no way we’d fire one of our employees for something like that. We’d much rather 86 an entitled-acting tech nerd.”
The battle between Lost Lake and the nerds continues on Facebook, with one person replying to the post on the cafe’s new anti-Glass policy saying he’s never going back, and adding, “What if I wanted to take a picture of my food … Idiots!” Others take a different view, with an obvious fan of the new rule exclaiming, “Screw Google Glasses and the idiots that would use them!” Charming.
So, despite Google’s assurances Glass isn’t a security or privacy risk, people are still very wary of the new tech. Or are they, like Meinert and Starr, just jumping aboard the hype train for some free publicity?