Google Glass Explorer opens up on bar fight, privacy


Last week, I interviewed a Google Glass “Explorer” for an article about Glass and privacy. It wasn’t Sarah Slocum.

“Explorer” is a Google term for people enrolled in a program to beta-test Glass, a wearable computer that can surf the Internet, livestream, geo-locate, and record through a computerized prism affixed to a set of eyeglasses.

There are at least 10,000 Explorers currently giving the $1,500 prototypes a test run, and more than 27,000 participating in a Google+ community about it. The Silicon Valley tech giant views its Explorers as inhabiting a “living laboratory,” and is actively seeking feedback on the gadgets’ use and functionality.

The Explorer I spoke with is Matt Hunt, and his recent removal from Oakland bar Telegraph for wearing Glass is chronicled in detail in this Medium story by journalist Susie Cagle. The writer discloses that her partner, Billy Agan, told Hunt to remove the Glass before he was kicked out.

Not yet available for retail, Glass has proven to be a lightning rod – particularly in bars, where people are more apt to feel that it is invasive. Some bar owners are concluding that the best approach is to ban Glass altogether, to avoid headaches. 

Unlike most new technology, this particular device has quickly come to be associated with class tension in the Bay Area, a region that is being radically altered by an economic shift fueled by an influx of tech workers. Glass has also caused people to fear surreptitious surveillance in an era when new revelations about secretive government spying programs are surfacing with every passing week. 

There are conflicting accounts of what unfolded when Hunt was booted from Telegraph after his confrontation with Agan. Hunt says he refused to remove the Glass because he didn't think Agan had the authority to tell him to stop wearing it; bar owner John Mardikian says Hunt responded by defaming the bar on social media, which Hunt refutes (Hunt had previously been helping Mardikian with social media and IT work). Agan wasn't available for comment. All told, the conflict appears to have produced two major outcomes: hurt feelings all around, and a ban on Glass at Telegraph.

“I don’t want it here, because it’s anti-community,” said Mardikian, who imposed the ban. “I want people to feel comfortable when they are here.”

Other bars have proactively banned glass too.

Conflict aside, Hunt did share a perspective on wearing Glass that might interest anyone who has wondered about it – whether from a standpoint of curiosity or suspicion. Because while some people are viscerally repelled by the gadget and may assume that it is recording (it might be, but you can tell by checking to see if the user’s eye is lit up), there’s also a low level of understanding about what the thing actually does.

Hunt told us he was excited about Glass before it came out, and saved up the $1,500 required to get it. “I’ve always been a techie,” he said. “I’m always about smart everything.” 

To wear Glass is to be an attention a magnet, he said. “There are some people who approach me about it who are very calm, and they are curious, and they ask me about it.”

But as evidenced by the drama that unfolded at Telegraph, wearing Glass can stir up trouble when people feel that their personal boundaries are being violated. “Something I hear all the time is, there’s a camera on your face, and therefore it’s in my face.” But he said that since he rarely ever uses the camera, that fear is unfounded – at least as it pertains to people who are encountering him wearing Glass.

Constant recording and even live streaming through Glass is technically possible. It’s also problematic with the current model, due to battery drain.

“If you were out and about, it would have to be tethered to your phone’s Internet connection,” he explained. “It uses a lot of data.” When content is captured through Glass, it is automatically backed up to the cloud, meaning it’s copied onto a server somewhere. That means people who are photographed can’t control what happens to their image, but it doesn’t mean it will be viewed publically or by anyone at all.

So, if he’s not constantly recording, what is Hunt doing when he’s looking at that little computerized prism?

As with a smartphone, he’ll read the news, and check email. There are other functions. “You can have things translated,” he said, like a menu or sign in a foreign language. “Based on your location, it will tell you what’s around you,” such as attractions. But a lot of times it just sits on his face, not doing anything in particular. “Just because you’re wearing it, doesn’t mean you’re using it.”

People who wear Glass can also take advantage of some bizarre "Glassware" apps, like this one, which can feed users hints on people they are encountering in real time.

Taking a picture with Glass involves either tapping the side of the device, or speaking “take a picture” out loud, Hunt explained. There is also an optional feature of winking to take a snapshot.

That may sound like a smooth spy maneuver, but Hunt said it’s actually rather awkward. “I don’t like it,” he said, “because you have to wink like ten times to make it work. It’s very dramatic winking.” Wearing a computer on your face and winking dramatically? Talk about socially awkward.

As for the privacy issue, Hunt said he thought bar owners had a right to ban Glass but believed it was short-sighted, because he thinks Glass will catch on. “Wearable technology is the technology of the future," he told us with confidence. "What will you do when everyone is wearing it?”

And ironically given what happened at Telegraph, Hunt insisted during our phone interview that Glass users should not wear the device in places where it causes others to feel uncomfortable.

“I want privacy as much as you do,” he said. “And I feel terrible sometimes that people think the NSA is watching them through my eyes.”


like this and someone carrying a smart phone which can perform many of the same things. In particular, anyone with a phone can take images, movies or record conversations without anyone realizing. And in fact, Google Glass is easier to spot than a smart phone which can he held innocently while recording.

None of us have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place and, in particular, people routinely behave badly in bars and get recorded.

This is (yet another) non-issue from SFBG.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 5:49 pm

Exactly! Great points that more people should consider when deciding that it's ok to assault someone

Posted by Matt Hunt on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 6:08 pm

Matt, you're a damn liar. Susie caught you accidentally tweeting the same crap from your account and Telegraph's account at the same time.

Looks like you were angry, drunk and forgot to switch between accounts on Hootsuite.

Here's the proof. Now do us all a favor and move out of state.

Posted by Dave on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 6:12 pm

If you are in a business establishment and an employee or owner asks you to take off your clown glasses or leave, you do either of those things.

On the class issue, thats between the entitled progressives and the entitled tech workers, the rest of us don't want to be recorded for some future idiotic use by some annoying zero.

Public places have video recording going all the time, no one wants to sit through that and watch you jabber between your friends. While some google glass clown can put their two beer bro's on youtube with you.

Posted by guest on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 6:49 pm

smart phone can do everything Glass can do, so there really is no difference here.

If someone wants to record you making a tit out of yourself in a bar, they can do that now without your knowledge.

Non issue.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 6:56 pm

Not only can a smartphone be used to do this, it is far more often used to do this exact thing (in a much more covert manner).

Posted by Matt Hunt on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 7:03 pm

You seem to be forgetting that I also worked there for free for two years, and I asked the owner to address the situation far before it ever escalated to the point that it did. He told me he would handle the situation, yet never addressed it at all.

I've been asked to remove it before because there was a policy or someone was just uncomfortable, and I have always respectfully obliged. This was preventable by management, yet due to his lack of communication skills it escalated into the situation at hand.

Posted by Matt Hunt on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 7:13 pm

Why would you interview a man who caused such an incident and then terrorized a local business and hijacked their social media as an example of Google Glass users? Is this a followup to the other article about his jackassery or supposed to stand on it's own? It's both poorly thought out in concept and in execution.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 6:47 pm

Do you have proof of your (otherwise unfounded) claims?

Posted by Matt Hunt on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 7:04 pm

Matt, welcome to SFBG. Before you start bending over backwards trying to have a sane discussion with the resident Trotskyites on this board, remember one thing - these are people who think it's inconceivably rude to wear google glass in a public place, yet it's perfectly acceptable to take a shit on someone's front porch.

Posted by Snoozers on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 10:47 pm

Trotskyites? Where?

Posted by Lev Davidovich Brohshtein on Mar. 12, 2014 @ 6:11 pm

Google Glass is not a realistic tool to record video of every person who comes near the wearer, or even most of them. The battery life simply cannot sustain it, and it isn't practical to do. Glass records only when you ask it to, and you have to quite obviously stare at someone to do it. When I wear my Glass, I have far more people come up to me and do obnoxious things like stick their hands in my face over the glass, make faces, or ask offensive questions about my intentions than anything else. Glass is a wonderful tool and a pleasure to wear, but I really wish the public would learn more about this technology and stop being afraid of it. Google Glass isn't doing anything that anyone with a common smartphone can't do, and with Glass it's MUCH more obvious if the wearer is doing it.

So, everyone who is freaking out and banning Glass from bars: please stop. You aren't making educated decisions.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 8:06 pm

No one is this stupid.

Posted by guest on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 8:53 pm

The chorus of comments from entitled tech users huffing that people who object to their lack of common courtesy "just don't understand tech" pretty much validates every complaint about their appalling sense of entitlement.

Posted by GuestChelleG on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 8:58 pm

with Sarah Slocum? They seem like the perfect couple from wearable tech hell.

The backlash is coming. Many people do not want their lives controlled by these devices or to give up their privacy to those who think that because they can record people at will with phones or these ridiculous glasses, that doing so is all right.

How far we have fallen as a society with this rapidly increasing smartphone addiction. I use the internet a lot, but I don't need to take it with me everywhere. No one needs to, even if you think that you do.

The rudeness that these smart phones has exacerbated is shocking. Try going to the movies and watch people go into withdrawal because they have to turn off their phones. And the trailers count, so turn them off before they start.

It used to be considered rude to use a cell phone in a restaurant. Now, wifi is a minimum standard for a bar or restaurant.

This ain't progress. It is just a new way for corporations to separate us from our hard earned money buying unnecessary things that require the despoiling of the environment and slave labor to produce. And a new one each year means more people die for your fashion.

Many digital natives I meet can't even carry out a proper conversation. Everything is rushed, like their conversational skills have being converted into text messages and twitter posts.

Mr. Hunt, take a hike. There are a lot worse things than not being allowed to wear your google glasses wherever you want. A lot worse. Why don't you think about it and try to do something useful for society?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 9:04 pm

Any particular reason that the writer did not question Matt Hunt concerning his espoused and devout racism? He doesn't attempt to hide it (or not well). It's well known at Wize, though tolerated as Hunt is quick to point accusation.

I ask, as it seems germaine to the article as it relates to the confrontation Hunt had with Agan.

Posted by Wize Commerce on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 10:13 pm

What the hell are you even talking about, Susie?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 10:48 pm

It seems like someone is trying to get Hunt in trouble at his place of employ? What sort of tactic is that, besides... gross? Makes it seem like either Cagle or Agan are behind it, whether or not they are.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 11:34 am

Like those that Hunt made about the bar? Sounds like his chickens are coming home to roost.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 2:15 pm

It says in the article that he refutes those claims. So... if you believe that he did make comments about the bar via social media, you also have to believe that Agan called him a "f***t". All or nothing in the assumptions game, my friend.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 3:09 pm

Wize - you are full of it

Posted by Richmondman on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 1:52 pm

Though there is no correlation between economy and environment,
a sustainable environment is extremely important for long-term economic growth.
Why is everybody talking about sustainable development.
Permaculture is a way of life that encompasses your everyday life.

Posted by desarrollo sustentable on Mar. 20, 2014 @ 10:35 am

Liked the article, wish I hadn't sullied it by reading the comments. It feels like two people just fighting amongst themselves in here.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 11:15 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 04, 2014 @ 11:29 pm

Here, here! There is no room for the self-entitled in Progressive San Francisco!

Posted by Snoozers on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 4:15 am

much as the right-wingers who they claim are driven by hate and prejudice.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 7:08 am

Perhaps the writer gave too much credence to the Googledy Glass "explorer," I'm thinking.

For instance: you can tell someone is recording because "their eye is lit up?" What makes the person's eye light up? A display of the scene being captured perhaps? What about a dark scene?

And blinking has to be done "like 10 times" to get the gizmo to take a picture? That's tripping my BS detector.

Of course private businesses have always had the right to compel people to put away their cameras and there's no reason for this new camera to change that.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 2:52 am

Lilli's foremost concern has always been the right of private businesses to prescribe the behavior of the general public.

Posted by Snoozers on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 4:12 am

private or public location, and it is easy to record people in that way.

Someone should tell SFBG that a bar fight isn't news.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 6:03 am

There are several bars and parties in the Bay Area that actively discourage cell phone use (Bus Station John's parties ban them outright), not to mention practically every concert venue, performance space, and movie theater. BUt you'd need to go out to know that.

Posted by admin on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 6:41 am

should be turned off. But the phone can still be on and used silently.

Even planes are starting to allow inflight use now.

You can be recorded in public now, by anyone, and without your knowledge.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 7:07 am
Posted by Greg on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 9:35 am

Like I said earlier, if she had wielded a phone and recorded the scene, nobody would have batted an eyelid. you are recorded dozens of times a day either by CCTV or by individual with their phones. The Google Glass thing is dumb but it's not the real problem. The portability of electronics is the problem and you cannot solve it or prevent it.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 9:59 am

" if she had wielded a phone and recorded the scene, nobody would have batted an eyelid."

It's actually difficult to do that with a cell phone, in spite of what people say. You can turn it on without anyone noticing, sure, but unless you prop it up in an odd manner, the only thing it will record is the light fixtures on the ceiling or the countertop. To do what she did with a cell phone, you really have to turn it on, hold it up and manually point it around. And if you do that, yes, you will get kicked out.

" The portability of electronics is the problem and you cannot solve it or prevent it. "

Yes, it's a problem, but it doesn't mean that we should throw our hands up and stop trying to reclaim our privacy.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 10:36 am

have never seen anyone get thrown out for that. Most people in a bar are having a good time and don't give a crap about someone taking pictures. You are deluded if you think the rest of us are as paranoid as you clearly are.

And with practice you can surreptitiously use a phone as a camera. And there are various more specialized micro camera that you can wear on your person that record everything. You surely know about that as I'm sure you want cops to use them at all times so you can try and undermine law enforcement in this town.

What's it like being you?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 11:01 am

Google Glass would be a lousy way to take video in a bar. There is the battery issue mentioned already but also you would have to stare right at the subject for an extended period,with that silly thing on your head. Pretty damm obvious. And it would be very hard to pick up any usable audio.

Much better to just get a bluetooth mini cam/microphone and pair it with your phone.The lens is a little black dot without any wires that you could install anywhere on dark clothing (or hair) and nobody would know.

Although, I have to say that the original premise for this whole SFBG series, that someone was taping the crowd at Molotovs on an average night because it would be SO interesting...that's pretty goofy if you think about it.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 11:17 am

making it too obvious that she was recording people, or at least could have been.

There's plenty of ways of recording people in a bar without anyone knowing, as you note. And I struggle to believe that the drunks at Molotov's really give a crap either way.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 11:27 am

Generally speaking, the main problem people have with getting photographed is probably not related to having a photo taken--though of course there may very well be objections to that. The biggest problem is the sense of disrespect that people feel when cameras are pointed at them without their consent.

It is impolite to disrespect people. Get that Googledy guys?

Posted by lillipublicans* on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 12:17 pm

You have no reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place, and I am perfectly free to record you without your permission. You might object and I will tell you that I don't give a flying crap.

In practice, of course, I'd do it in a way that you couldn't detect anyway. And I'm probably more likely to record you if I think you are paranoid about it and have something to hide.

You really should try enjoying yourself in a bar instead of being paranoid.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 12:24 pm

image used for monetary gain, I'm fairly certain, but let's not confuse a "public place" with a public accommodation which is a private space.

I believe the private owners of such public accommodations have an absolute right to control the use of photographic equipment within their spaces.

But of course this is getter away from my central point: wearing Googledy Eye in a bar would be every bit as much an affront to its patrons as raising a camera to their faces. It doesn't even require the triggering of the shutter to cause aggravation by doing so.

Merely the potential or suggestion that a photo and or video is being captured is enough to cause discomfort in those who wish to be left alone and have every right to expect being left alone.

*real lillipublicans or fake? Reader must decide as always.

Posted by lillipublicans* on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 2:41 pm

1) You do have a right to control the use of an image of you for monetary gain, but nobody was suggesting that here. That is a right about the subsequent use of an image of you and not about the right of that image to be taken without your permission.

2) A private location like a bar may adopt its own policies about the use of photography but they are under no obligation to do so. If they are happy for people to go around taking pictures of the patrons, that is their privilege. All you can do is avoid those locations if you are that paranoid.

3) As noted already by others, you can be recorded very easily without your knowledge or permission. Glass is far from the most effective way of asserting that right. Sucks to be you.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 2:53 pm

Lilli abhors rudeness. He always comports himself in the most polite way possible, even when you disagree with him.

Posted by Snoozers on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 3:29 pm

Just because someone is wearing Glass doesn't mean they are taking pictures of every dumb fucker that gets in their face. Why the hell would they want pictures of all you assholes, anyway?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 4:38 pm

As far as Matt Hunt's denial that he took over the Telegraph Beer Garden Twitter account goes, he's already been proven a liar. Susie Cagle caught him tweeting the same garbage from his own account and from the Telegraph account.

Hunt apparently forgot to switch between accounts on Hootsuite or whatever 3rd party app he was using to manage multiple accounts.

Here's a link to Cagle's proof:

Posted by Dave on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 6:09 pm

Oh, you mean the woman who took to her platform to essentially slander the guy? Oh, okay.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2014 @ 9:07 pm

The discussion on this board is amazingly ridiculous and would be a great premise for a play.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 10:25 pm

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