While Google is presenting Glass as both a consumer and a business product, the strongest enthusiasm appears to be coming from vertical business and professional markets. The latest case in point: New York City restaurant inspectors.
At least some Health Department inspectors might use Glass to record site visits, if a law proposed yesterday is adopted by the City Council. Glass appears to be catching on in the New York City government, and the city’s police department is already conducting tests of the technology.
The law would require 10 percent of the city’s 160 health inspectors to use video recording devices, and Glass is being mentioned as a possible tool for that purpose. The bill’s sponsor, City Council Minority Leader Vincent Ignizio, told The New York Post that recordings would “limit the abuses on both sides of the table” — apparently not referring to a restaurant table.
He also noted that video would serve as an objective record for a judge evaluating any violations. Nearly half of the 51 Council members have already voiced their support for the proposed legislation, with many citing the objectivity that video could provide.
It’s possible the inspectors could use Glass to call up previous records from a given restaurant, although the Council’s main interest appears to be video recording. As a result, this may be a case where the Google headgear is not the ideal choice.
First, there’s the price – currently, a steep $1,500 apiece. While that figure is expected to drop once the device is in general release, it is a stretch to think it might reach the $200 level that many of the supporting Council members have said they expect.
If the feature the Council wants is video recording, inspectors could certainly acquire standalone high-resolution non-Glass cameras for $200, and their IT wouldn’t need to deal with the connectivity, access to data, specialized video recording, and other factors specific to an evolving tool like Glass.
As Glass’ capabilities are matched to potential users, it seems the most appropriate users are those for whom hands-free access to video/audio recording, data and communications is most essential.
That’s why the strongest reception so far appears to be coming from the medical sector. There, hands-free access in operating rooms, when seeing patients, in the ER, and in teaching settings provides a capability that previously did not exist. In fact, if we didn’t know better, it would seem Glass was developed specifically for those use cases.
Once the gadgets are cheap enough, there might even be a hands-free need in the restaurant industry: waiters and waitresses trying to remember the day’s specials, the menu, and the orders they just turned in while they juggle plates of food.