Does Google Glass + Livestream = Trouble for Event Planners?

There’s an article in the Wall Street Journal about Google offering the Livestream app in its MyGlass store for Google Glass users. The article focuses on some of the privacy and copyright concerns that this raises:

On Tuesday, Google Inc. officially began offering the Livestream video-sharing app in its MyGlass store. The software lets Glass wearers share what they are seeing and hearing with other Livestream account holders free of charge by using the command, “OK Glass, start broadcasting.”

Users who want to broadcast to non-registered Livestream viewers can pay up to $399 a month to stream their video to the Web…

But privacy advocates worry that Google’s Internet-enabled, camera-outfitted glasses already make it too easy for wearers to quietly photograph and film other people…

Livestream’s terms forbid video that is unlawful, obscene or pornographic. The company addresses copyright concerns as it does with footage shot on conventional cameras: A video shared with a few friends might not cause problems, but Livestream would act to take down an illegal broadcast to thousands of viewers.

We could all probably come up with our own unique concerns related to this, but as someone who’s made a living selling professional education services the first thing I thought about was, “What would we do if someone walked into one of our conferences or seminars wearing Google glasses?” I mean, what if they had Livestream loaded and had arranged to have their coworkers watch the live video of the session? We’ve always faced the issue of having one attendee take all the materials back and share with their colleagues, but their colleagues would miss out on the interaction with the instructor and other attendees, not have the opportunities to ask questions, etc. With this technology one person could attend and provide a live video stream to colleagues who could then text their own questions to the attendee and get a truly “almost good as live” experience.

Of course my knee jerk reaction was that we’d simply ban the things from our sessions. But is that the right thing to do? As with most things the answer is “it depends.” There are lots of factors at play here: whether or not the instructor is okay with it, the nature of the material, the purpose of the class, etc. For example I currently work with a trade association and one of our primary functions is to provide education to our members. We have to balance the cost of providing the education with the budgetary constraints of our members – in other words we need to be careful that we don’t price our members out of the very classes their employees need, but we still need to cover our costs. In that scenario would we be hurt by a member sending one person rather than ten and thus paying $100 for the seminar versus the $1,000 they would have sent otherwise? Actually I think there could be opportunity there.

What do I mean by opportunity? Well, we could have a situation here where our members would be saving us the expense of creating our own streaming video service, which I think is going to become the norm in professional education. I think people will become comfortable with experiencing education sessions that aren’t professionally produced, that they’ll be satisfied with less than perfect video, and might actually prefer the experience since it will be more like sitting in the back row of a class than watching a professional webinar. So, how do we make sure it doesn’t cut our education revenue to the point that we can’t afford to put on these classes?

Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Create an upcharge for allowing wearable devices. If an attendee wants to wear Google Glass then they pay x% more to do so. If they don’t pay the fee then they can’t wear it in. We’re assuming they’ll share it with colleagues which means we could be losing out on additional revenue, but on the flip side we could pitch it as a member service – “Sure we’re charging you to wear your Google Glass, but we’re saving you money and your employees’ time away from the office.”
  • Because we aren’t having to provide seats to ten people from one company we could have seats opened up to more attendees from other companies. In the long run we might be able to reduce our overhead because we could downsize our training space and embrace a blend of in-person and remote learning.
  • We might be able to create sponsorships that take into account the increased exposure from the live streams and help offset the lost attendee revenue.
  • We could sell education by subscription. Companies can pay a flat fee to allow all of their people to attend any session. That removes the incentive to try and game the system and might even create a more predictable revenue stream for the organization.

That’s just a few ideas. Would love to hear from others how they see this type of technology will affect their businesses, whether or not they have anything to do with training. The possibilities in all businesses seem staggering to me.

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