Is It Wrong For A Restaurant To Tell Diners To Remove Google Glass?

glassdrivehorzThe culture war (more of a slap-fight) over where and when it’s okay to sport Google Glass continues. A Manhattan restaurant is the latest to get caught up in the fracas after it asked a customer to remove her Glass device while dining, resulting in a burst of negative reviews from those who think the eatery crossed a line… and a backlash from those who aren’t impressed with the headgear and don’t see why anyone would wear one to dinner.

According to the Glass wearer, someone at the restaurant asked her remove the device “because customers have complained of privacy concerns in the past.”

“Never has happened to me before in the one year I’ve had Glass,” wrote the diner. “I left.”

She later writes in the comments below her post that she asked if the restaurant restricts the use of cellphones, and was told no.

As you can see from her post, many people supported her, writing things like, “It’s going to take a lot of education before the general public understands the benefits of Glass and stops being weirded out by the forward facing camera” and “We need a site that lists all Glass Friendly businesses and all anti-Glass businesses out there.”

It also led to about a dozen 1-star reviews on the restaurant’s Google page, with reviewers openly stating they were giving it the low rating solely because of the Glass incident.

“Give one star because to get here u can’t wear Google glass,” reads one. “[I]t’s like u can get in here with your phone which is almost the same, change the policy of your restaurant and you’ll get better review.”

“Technophobes through and through,” is the sole content of another single-star review written since the April incident.

While it’s not Yelp, bad reviews on Google sting because a restaurant’s Google star rating is presented right there at the top of the search results page.

These negative write-ups briefly knocked this restaurant’s score down to as low as a 2.4 out of 5. It’s since recovered because of the backlash against Glass users, though it’s now difficult to gauge a useful crowdsourced rating for the restaurant because the score may be artificially inflated.

As for the restaurant’s reasons for asking the customer to remove her Glass, it tells EV Grieve [via Eater] that some customers had previously raised concerns about privacy when another customer came in sporting Glass. That customer had no problem taking off the device, so it assumed this one would follow suit and stow her Glass during the meal.

“The fact is that the policy of asking Google Glass wearers to remove them is based off experience,” the restaurant explains. “It’s not a policy set in stone so it could very well change.”

Let’s just take a quick look at the arguments for and against asking restaurant customers to remove Glass…

PRO-GLASS: NO ONE IS RECORDING YOU
As we’ve pointed out before, the fact that the camera on Glass is fixed and forward-facing — intended to capture something akin to what the eye sees while looking directly ahead — a Glass user would need to be staring directly at someone in order to accurately capture them on video. The staring would be noticeable even if the person weren’t wearing something that looks like a quickly put-together prop from a fan-made sci-fi movie.

ANTI-GLASS: IF YOU’RE NOT USING IT, THEN WHY MUST YOU HAVE IT ON?
While people are beginning to integrate Glass into prescription lenses, most users do not require Glass to see their food or read a menu. If they aren’t going to be using the device while eating, why can’t they just put it away?

PRO-GLASS: IF YOU’RE NOT BANNING CELLPHONE USE, WHY BAN GLASS?
Smartphones are a much bigger annoyance to restaurant customers, with other diners taking calls, texting, snapping photos of their food (sometimes while standing on chairs), Tweeting, and just checking the time and weather. These phones can also more easily be used to surreptitiously record other diners or to post negative feedback online. Heck, Yelp is launching video reviews just for that purpose. If people are allowed to have their buzzing, ringing, bleeping phones out on the table through dinner, then what’s the harm in someone wearing a very obvious Google Glass?

ANTI-GLASS: GOOGLE GLASS IS JUST AS BAD AS SMARTPHONES AND THEY SHOULD BOTH BE BANNED
Yes, smartphones are a true nuisance at restaurants for all the reasons just mentioned — and any restaurant that appreciates its customers would also tell smartphone users to holster their devices. Texts can wait. Baseball scores can wait. Your food photo posted to Instagram? Not only will it look bad, but your friends are sick of seeing every muffin, french fry, scallop, and parfait that is put before you. It’s food and it’s meant to be eaten; not poorly photographed.