Tensions simmer over wearable tech

You spot a person in a restaurant or market wearing Google Glass, the wearable technology that’s hard not to take notice of. Does it leave you impressed? Or offended by this apparent intrusion of mobile technology in your space?

As interest grows in the potential for the device that mounts a computer and camera on a wearer’s face, so is the debate over its acceptance in public, and whether by its presence an apparent boundary of privacy is breached.

Tensions over Google Glass flared recently when a San Francisco social media consultant said she was attacked for wearing the device at a local bar. Sarah Slocum said she was “verbally and physically assaulted” by patrons for using the device, and that one of them yanked the device from her face. Slocum said she was also robbed of other belongings when she pursued her alleged attackers.

San Francisco police believe it is the first incident of outright violence in the city over Google Glass. There have been other reports of friction regarding the device.

We posted one recently about a movie patron who was questioned by federal Homeland Security agents for wearing his Google Glass device inside a Columbus, Ohio, theater. The man was able to convince the agents that he was not using the device to record the film for bootleg sale.

In San Diego, a woman was ticketed last year for wearing Google Glass behind the wheel. The case was dismissed when it could not be proven that the device was activated while she was driving.

Several states appear to be considering legislation regulating the use of Google Glass by drivers.

Google Glass remains in the testing stage – it is available to “Explorers” who act as ambassadors for the device – and is not yet available to the general public.

For its part, the company released a list of dos and don’ts for its Explorer community to follow, like don’t “Wear it and expect to be ignored.”

But as companies invest heavily in wearable consumer technology, from fitness bands and health diagnostic devices to wrist devices that can tell time as well as take and download images, there will be inevitable run-ins between those embracing this technology and others who prefer to keep it at arms’ length.