Movie Theaters Are Banning Google Glass Because They Don’t Understand It

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
June 30 2014 3:21 PM

Movie Theaters Are Banning Google Glass Because They Don’t Understand It

Sorry, Mr. Nayyar, we're going to need you to put those away before you're allowed inside.
Sorry, Mr. Nayyar, we're going to need you to put those away before you go inside.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Cinemas across the United Kingdom are banning Google Glass, the Independent reports, out of fear that people will use it to surreptitiously record and pirate movies.

The fiat comes from the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association, a trade group. “Customers will be requested not to wear these into cinema auditoriums, whether the film is playing or not,” said Phil Clapp, the group’s chief executive.

Advertisement

It isn’t just the Brits who are cracking down on Google’s high-tech specs. Earlier this year a Glass-wearer was hauled out of an AMC theater and interrogated by FBI agents in Columbus, Ohio. He explained to the agents that he couldn’t just take the device off, because it was attached to his prescription lenses. That apparently didn’t stop them from detaining him for an hour and going through all his photos and personal data.

It should be apparent to anyone who has ever used Google Glass that the paranoia is unwarranted. The device can record video, but the quality is low, and the audio quality is even worse. And it can only record for 30 to 45 minutes before the battery runs out.

Will Oremus Will Oremus

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

More importantly, as I explained last year when I called Google Glass “the world’s worst surveillance device,” there’s a red light on the front of the device that blinks on and stays lit whenever it’s recording. In a pitch-dark theater, surreptitiousness is pretty much out of the question.

In a statement about the U.K. cinema ban, Google is saying pretty much the same thing. “Broadly speaking, we think it’s best to have direct and first-hand experience with Glass before creating policies around it,” a spokesman said, semi-diplomatically. “The fact that Glass is worn above the eyes and the screen lights up whenever it’s activated makes it a fairly lousy device for recording things secretly.”

You know what does records audio and video in higher quality, doesn’t have a bright red light on the front, and could capture an entire movie? The smartphones that just about everyone carries into theaters these days.

Google Glass might be newer and therefore scarier to people than smartphones, but there’s no good reason it should be treated differently in a movie theater. Moviegoers wearing prescription Glass should simply turn their face-computers off before the film starts, the same way they do with their pocket-computers. And for those with non-prescription Glass, this shouldn’t even be an issue: You don’t need the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association to tell you that you’ll be able to see the movie better without an extra screen stuck to your head.

Previously in Slate:

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

The GOP Senate Candidate in Iowa Doesn’t Want Voters to Know Just How Conservative She Really Is

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

The Supreme Court, Throughout Its History, Has Been a Massive Disappointment

Why Indians in America Are Mad for India’s New Prime Minister

Damned Spot

Now Stare. Don’t Stop.

The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 12:04 PM John Hodgman on Why He Wore a Blue Dress to Impersonate Ayn Rand
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 30 2014 2:36 PM This Court Erred The Supreme Court has almost always sided with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful, a new book argues.
  Business
Building a Better Workplace
Sept. 30 2014 1:16 PM You Deserve a Pre-cation The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.
  Life
Education
Sept. 30 2014 1:48 PM Thrashed Florida State’s new president is underqualified and mistrusted. But here’s how he can turn it around.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 4:45 PM Steven Soderbergh Is Doing Some Next-Level Work on The Knick
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 4:59 PM China’s Not the Problem With Carbon Emissions. We Are.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath the Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.