by Jason Gilbert
AMSTERDAM -- Wearing Google Glass may not raise any eyebrows in certain benign situations: taking photos of your kids with Glass, for example, seems like a perfectly acceptable use, as does capturing your point-of-view while mountain biking, or skateboarding, or skydiving.
But what happens when you walk into a public restroom wearing Google's futuristic head-mounted gadget? Are you in danger of getting cracked in the skull?
Absolutely not, according to prominent tech blogger Robert Scoble. Speaking at The Next Web Europe Conference here in Amsterdam, Scoble -- who is one of the first owners of the Google Glass Explorer Edition, made for developers and early backers -- described his initial experiences with Glass in public restrooms in an informal chat with fellow technologist Andrew Keen.
Scoble explained to a befuddled Keen that he had been wearing Glass non-stop all week; that he had walked into 20 men's restrooms wearing the device on his head; and that not once had anyone raised a stink, stared at him askew, or punched him in his nose.
In fact, Scoble continued, while he at first he was a bit apprehensive about it, after a while he didn't even remember that he was wearing Glass into the loo, in the same way you might forget you're wearing a hat, or a pair of eyeglasses, so much it had become a natural part of his daily wardrobe.
It's true that, in person, Google Glass does not look as strange or freakish as many have predicted it would; it looks no weirder, in fact, than some of the more daring ocular fashions that have emerged from certain trendy neighborhoods in Brooklyn. If the owner isn't calling attention to his or her Glass, it would take you a moment to process that a Glass-wearer is in the room, unless you are looking for the device on foreheads around you.
It is also true, however, that some sort of Glass-related brawl feels inevitable. Scoble told the conference crowd that Glass is not always recording, as some might assume; that you either have to instruct Glass to begin recording with a voice command or by manipulating a touchpad on the side of the device. That may have assuaged the privacy fears of a tech-obsessed crowd, but the bloke at the pub sporting a biker's jacket and a dog collar is less likely to stand in rapt attention as you explain the mechanics of what he assumes is snapping photos of his urinal activity.
As more and more units of Glass ship out -- Google will ship thousands of Glass Explorer pairs over the following few weeks -- the patience and technological literacy of bathroom-goers the world over will be tested. As will the patience of denizens of other unsavory places: Scoble announced that he was headed to Amsterdam's Red Light District later in the evening, and that anyone in the crowd was welcome to follow him and his Glass.