LevelUp founder Seth Priebatsch could barely contain his excitement when discussing the possibilities of Google Glass, a mobile device built into a headset that Google sells only to a limited number of early adopters.
The device, which is worn like a pair of eyeglasses, pairs with a mobile phone and displays information on a small screen above the users right eye. It has a built-in camera and touch controls, and responds to spoken commands.
Everyone who experiences it has a wow reaction. If Google were to go mainstream and make it publically available, we would publish [an app] for Google Glass, said Priebatsch, chief ninja (CEO) of SCVNGR, the company behind the LevelUp mobile payment system.
One of the early uses for payments that LevelUp tested is an app that enables Google Glass to work in place of the handheld reader it uses to scan QR codes off of a consumers mobile phone. The cashier, wearing Google Glass, would use the touch controls and speak instructions to push the payment to the consumers device.
Weve been doing this three or four times a day, and its awesome. It blows peoples minds, Priebatsch says.
Google Glass could serve as a line buster, Priebatsch saysa retailers staff could walk down a line of consumers taking payments by looking at their smartphones.
Eventually, LevelUp would prefer to bypass the smartphone entirely, using LevelUps Facebook integration and facial recognition technology to enable Google Glass to recognize customers by sight. That way you wouldnt have to look at the consumers phone, Priebatsch says, though he categorizes that as a long-term prospect.
LevelUp offers mobile payments for a variety of retailers though partnerships with processors like Heartland Payment Systems, mobile payment companies like Shopkeep POS and banks such as First Trade Union Bank.
The company recently extended its reach in restaurant payments with pcAmerica and NCR. The NCR deal enables LevelUp to update its technology at many of the NCR merchants that already deployed its mobile-payment system.
Despite Priebatschs enthusiasm, LevelUp is not currently planning to deploy a Google Glass service, though he says some merchants have inquired about Google Glass.
They said that if we give them glasses for their cashiers they will go with, but given how restricted [Google Glass current distribution] is, its probably further off, Priebatsch says.
Google Glass is being introduced gradually, and currently isnt broadly available. Google currently sells the devices to developers and to early adopters who entered a contest to win a chance to buy the headsets at $1,500 each.
Other payment companies have explored the idea of using Google Glass with their own products.
Were excited about Google Glass, and anyone who is a developer knows it has a lot of potential, says Oren Levy, CEO of ZooZ, a mobile payments technology company.
ZooZ does not have a Google Glass app, but is experimenting with the technology, Levy says. We see a consumer walking around a shop and seeing a product that they want. Google Glass can scan the barcode and enter that item into the consumers shopping cart, Levy says.
Wearable computing technology such as Google Glass can be a way to bring greater context to mobile shopping, says Cyriac Roeding, founder and CEO of shopkick, which offers a sound-based mobile rewards system.
Its your personal lens on a store, and the pun is almost intended. Google Glass can show you which items you looked at before, what your friend Sally likes at the same store, special offers, etc., Roeding says.
The form factor for wearable computing still has to evolve, Roeding says. The Google Glass screen is designed to sit just above the users field of vision, and the upward gaze the devices use is awkward, he says, but this awkwardness can be overcome.
The computer is getting closer to the body, it used to be on a desk, then it was in your hand, now its on your face or arm, he says. If someone is at a store with a full [literal] shopping cart, they can do hands-free shopping with Google Glass.
Google would not comment for this article, but it recently updated the device to support Web browsing. The company is also developing an app store, an MP3 player and a way to lock the device, according to Slashgear.