Glass at Gold's

January 23, 2014

I’ve had Google Glass for a few months now, an I’m no stranger to the glaring eyes. After taking a few days for myself to get used to wearing Glass, I realized it would take me longer to get used to the reactions of others.

My first week of wearing Glass in public, I was concerned people would label me as a Glasshole and denounce me. They did not, most people were ecstatic to see a pair in person. I’ve worn them around town, while shopping, and yes, even the movies. That abruptly ended today.

I’ve been wearing my Glass to Gold’s Gym since I first got it, it makes working out super simple, no more worrying about cables getting stuck in machines, or limiting your reach, as it’s bundled securely on your head. When I began wearing them to Gold’s, I was frequently asked about them: what they were, how they work, what they were capable of. A few times I’ve even let complete strangers try them on and test them. I just don’t want people to be perturbed by my wearing of them. I’d like to say that a few friends were made, as they’re a good conversation starter.

Today, a Gold’s Gym employee informed me I was no longer allowed to wear Glass into their facilities. As she threatened that other members may feel uncomfortable due to the outward facing camera on Glass, I noticed she held her phone in hand, camera pointed at me, exactly what she said was not allowed. I questioned her about that, wondering if these numerous peoples taking “selfies” in the mirror, Facebooking their workouts, constantly photographing themselves an others. There are so many other people that use cameras and recoding devices at that gym, I can assure that I’ve been in numerous photos that I’ve never given consent to. Why was this emerging technology being regarded as dangerous, and when would people understand it wasn’t?

All I could think of was how often I see entire film crews recording at that location. There are constant photos being taken, and videos being filmed, since this is such a well-known gym. Even more recently Arnold Schwarzenegger was at that same Gold’s Gym, doing some undercover recording. Yeah, sure, it’s annoying (read: intimidating) when you’re working out and a professional bodybuilder is being photographed for a magazine cover, but I’ve never seen any employee of Gold’s say something to them.

I would expect that a place in such a technologically centered community as Venice, with Google offices right around the corner (which almost bought the location), an a Microsoft office within “walking distance”, that Gold’s Gym employees and members would be much more open to these sorts of things.

If more people understood what Glass was capable, moreover what it isn’t, then people would be more accepting of using it in public. There are numerous reasons that I wouldn’t and can’t record people in the gym, like:

  • Battery life, especially while listening to music, wouldn’t last for very long
  • The screen would be lit up, which is easily noticeable
  • Recording time is limited to 10 seconds, unless manually overwritten
  • Most importantly, I’m in there doing my own thing, not focusing on/staring at others

I just wish that the common misconceptions about Glass could be cleared up to avert issues like this from arising in the future. Maybe even just for starters, Gold’s Gym could follow their own rules and restrict filming for everybody, or let this new an expanding wearables market progress where it needs to, without this unnecessary battling.

Update: March 2, 2014

I was politely contacted by a manager of Gold’s Gym who informed me that the employee did not have the authority, and they did not approve of the banning. I appreciate the followup from Gold’s, and hope more people will open up to these emerging technologies.

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