SCHENECTADY When Aray Montalvan, art director and social media coordinator for Proctors, saw Google’s “call to action” for their new product, Google Glass, a couple of months ago, she knew she had to get her hands on the new gadget.
Google ran a contest asking people through Twitter and Google Plus what they would do if they won a pair of the high-tech glasses. Contestants had to describe how they would use the new product in their everyday life. Applicants entered the contest by using the hashtag #ifihadglass.
Google received more than 100,000 responses, choosing 8,000 to test the product.
“I entered [the contest] through Twitter,” said Montalvan. “I said #ifihadglass I would show the behind-the-scenes of arts administrations by doing the region through the arts.”
Google Glass is the company’s newest product, featuring an eyeglass frame with a small lens in front of the right eye that can record video, take photographs, display the time, complete Google searches and provide turn-by-turn navigation while driving.
There is no need to plug the device into a computer, either; it delivers video and photos to the user’s Google account and has an attachable cord that can be plugged into the wall.
As a “Google Explorer” (the moniker for the group of people testing the product), Montalvan will be using her new Google Glass to take people behind the scenes at Proctors and other area arts venues.
“Whether it be a musical show, whether it be an arts show, I want to be at the soundboard and be able to experience that and share that with everyone,” said Montalvan. “[In] my role here at Proctors as the art director and editor-in-chief of social media, I’ve come to realize that people really enjoy seeing the behind-the-scenes of things. I can very well ... watch a performance with Glass on, [but] I’d rather not do that. I’d rather go behind the scenes.”
Montalvan has a couple of specific ideas of things to show audiences with the help of Glass. The self-described “early adaptor” to technology would like to show what goes on behind the scenes of a Broadway show featuring “the hair, makeup and costume changes,” the process behind making a full brochure, the soundtrack for the music in a show and the call board for a show.
“An important part of what Aray is going to be doing is it is not just about Proctors. This is about arts in the entire region. Her platform is behind the scenes of the arts in the entire region,” said Michael Eck, Broadway public relations liaison for Proctors. “For example, we’ll show how they put up a show at MASS MoCA ... a soundcheck maybe in Caffe Lena, what happens … at Albany Civic Theater.”
However, it’s not just rainbows and butterflies for the new Google product. “Saturday Night Live” heavily mocked the Internet-linking glasses in May on the sketch comedy show’s “Weekend Update” segment, pointing out flaws such as the inconsistent quality of the voice-command feature and the distant stare users can sometimes sport while using Glass.
The new glasses are also seen by some as a way to breach personal security. With the ability to record video and take pictures at the command of the user’s voice, some feel it can be intrusive. Some casinos and businesses throughout the United States have already banned the product.
“Nevada regulators advise that the techie glasses should be banned outright on the gambling floor. They warn that the device can be used to share information among colluding card players,” The Associated Press reported in a June 11 story.
However, Montalvan is adamant that Google Glass is not an intrusive piece of technology.
“I don’t think there’s any reason for people to be alarmed. It’s not like with a phone,” said Montalvan. “When you have a phone in your hand, [you] can very sneakily pretend that I’m typing, but guess what, I’m taking a video. If I was to take a video with [Glass], I have to be looking at you. It’s that obvious, and you’ll see it on the screen. It’s not like I can discreetly do something with it. I can’t.”
Google Glass is set for release in 2014.
Microsoft and Samsung are expected to complete with Google’s Glass in the near future.
For more information on Google Glass, visit www.google.com/glass/start/.