Oh hey, remember this thing?
Perhaps not, the device didn’t have a long life in the consumer world. This is the Google Glass. A few years back as wearable technology was enjoying massive popularity, Google developed this headset that would allow users to access the internet and do things like check email and make phone calls all with a simple voice command: “Ok Glass”. Released originally as a beta product, a buzzing community of “Glass Explorers” was created to play with and test the device, developing apps and exploring ways in which the Glass could be useful. For various reasons (including the limited way in which one could get their hands on a pair), the device didn’t exactly take off, and the program fizzled out (fun fact – our very first Tech Talk Thursday blog post discussed the end of the Glass Explorers program if you’d like to read a little more). But what’s become of the Glass since then?
Various industries have found innovative ways to make use of the device. A recent article from NPR describes how a farming equipment manufacturing company in Atlanta, GA uses the device inside their factories. For instance, by scanning the serial number of a particular part with the Glass, workers can use the device to assist them in the construction of those parts by pulling up manuals, photos or videos.
Other industries are making use of the devices as well, including health care. A company called Advanced Medical Applications specializes in telemedicine and uses the Glass to connect physicians, healthcare teams, and patients remotely. Using their XpertEye system, healthcare providers can share a first-person view of what they are seeing through Google Glass and work together via the conferencing system to provide solutions and deliver care using voice, video, and gesture. Another company, Augmedix, utilizes Google Glass to connect physicians with customized remote scribes to help providers populate patient Electronic Health Records in real-time during a visit, saving time and enhancing the physician-patient interaction.
The Glass is finding work in the research community as well. Researchers at Stanford University in the Systems Medicine division of the Stanford School of Medicine Pediatrics department developed a facial-recognition software for the Glass to be utilized by children with autism. Often, these children can have difficulty recognizing basic facial emotions, which can make the business of making friends challenging . The system reads facial expressions and provides real-time social cues to the wearer to aid in the interaction. They’re currently about halfway through the process of recruiting interested families for a large study on the effectiveness of the system as a therapeutic device, and will be sharing some of their progress at the International Meeting for Autism Research next week May 10th – 13th in San Francisco.
So good for Google Glass. The initial project is over, but savvy developers are still finding ways to make the most out of the tool outside of consumer markets. Who knows if we’ll ever be truly ready to integrate the device into our everyday lives, but as more companies find ways to make it more accessible there remains the possibility.