Google Hopes Its Roadshows Will Help Normalize Glass

Google Glass is still months from its public launch, but after the initial hype, most of the recent news around Glass has been negative. It seems like for every positive round of publicity Glass gets, it soon gets hit by something negative soon after.

Just a few days ago, for example, word spread that the New York Police Department was testing Glass. Google itself isn’t working with the NYPD, as far as I can tell, but somebody there probably got Glass through the Explorer program. Still, that story was enough to get the fears around privacy and Glass back into the news cycle (and onto the Drudge Report). Just take a look at the comments on CNN’s story about this if you want to know what people think about Glass.

2014-02-09_1005Google’s problem is that only a very small number of people have ever tried Glass, while everybody seems to have an opinion about it. The company isn’t ready to launch it publicly yet, so since late last year, it’s been taking Glass onto a roadshow around the U.S. This weekend, for example, the team went to Atlanta to give people there a chance to try Glass.

The idea here is simple: let people try it, so they can understand how it works. Too many people still think Glass always records everything around you. They may even believe that it has built-in face recognition or other tools that will invade their privacy. The reality is far less interesting, up to the point where at the Atlanta event, Google now shows off a lot of the sports Glassware and Word Lens so people can see Glass can actually be quite useful outside of showing you the weather and Google+ updates.

At its roadshows, Google lets you try Glass, but it also ensures that local politicians get a chance to try it. It’s pretty easy for somebody who wants to make his name in politics to take on Google without ever trying Glass, after all, and get his 15 minutes of fame on local news (and maybe a few minutes on cable news, too).

To change public perception of Glass (if that’s indeed still a possibility), Google needs to expand this kind of program before public launch. Until then, Glass will remain a privacy invading, face tagging, covert photo-taking headset for most.