Google Glass comes to campus

Senior Karli Amstadt models Google Glass while on a mission trip to South Dakota over spring break. Photo by Noah Manskar
Senior Karli Amstadt models Google Glass while on a mission trip to South Dakota over spring break. Photo by Noah Manskar

By Brian Williams and Brianna Velliquette
Transcript Reporter and Transcript Correspondent

Project Glass, Google’s newest venture in wearable technology, has come to Ohio Wesleyan.

Information Services has purchased a pair of Google Glass, and is looking forward to discovering how it can best be used on campus.

Google Glass, known simply as Glass, is a new product still in the phase of beta testing.

The company has launched an “Explorer Program” and if successful, hopes to release Glass to the general public.

Glass is a pair of glasses frames. On the right side is where the technology lies, with a small camera and heads up display (HUD), which can be seen by glancing up and to the right.

Once activated by the voice command “Okay glass” or by tapping the side, any of Glass’s functions are made available.

Users can do things such as take a picture, find directions, send a message, or browse the web.

Each function appears as an app, much like a Smartphone, and developers are constantly adding more apps that can be used with Glass.

Glass has Bluetooth connectivity, which allows one to pair with a Smartphone’s contacts for calls, messages, and data for on-the-go Glass experience.

“This is a completely new form factor, I think that we have a great opportunity for experimenting with ways OWU can benefit from it,” sophomore Matt McCord said.

Beta testing of the product has allowed Google to work out the early bugs from this new technology, as well as welcome the creativity of others in finding applications for its use.

McCord, an employee of IS and member of the campus technology council, touched on the current exclusivity of Glass ownership.

“It isn’t something that, if lost or broken, we can just get a new one,” he said.

“The university had to pay over $1,000 to own it and the application process wasn’t simple. We truly have our hands on a rare piece of forward thinking technology, and personally I’m excited to get my hands on them.”

IS has already come up with ways in which we can use Glass, and is welcoming the entire OWU community in sharing their ideas.

“A professor can film an experiment using Glass and give the first person perspective on exactly what to do,” instructional technologist David Soliday said.

“Or our externship and travel-learning course students can share what they are doing, while leaving them completely hands free. Down the line, tours can be filmed, both for those who can’t visit in person, but also to enhance the experience of visitors on campus through this overlapping augmented reality. The possibilities are limitless, which is the most exciting part.”

So far, not too many people have been able to check them out, as the product is still new to campus. Soliday cited an increase of awareness as one of the first steps to getting the most out of Glass.

“I was able to take Glass to WCSA’s full body meeting and loved sharing my experience to help build interest,” Dean of Students, Kimberlie Goldsberry said. The dean gave positive reviews about her Glass experience, saying there was a sense of energetic surprise and curiosity received by those around her.

“Training took only about a half hour and hearing the possibilities for use that students immediately came up with was really encouraging,” she said.

Soliday also pointed out that there still are some bugs Google is working to fix. Connecting to wifi networks with an extra authentication via website such as BishopNet is currently not supported, so in order to surf the web you must be tethered to a Smartphone’s data connection.

According to Google’s support page, they are working on fixing issues such as this and are releasing new software to improve the user experience.

“You can get a bit cross eyed after wearing them for too long, and they don’t easily fit over another pair of glasses.” Goldsberry said.

According to Soliday, Google is working to pair with optometrists to make prescription lenses, which will hopefully alleviate that concern.

Since they are so new, McCord keyed in on the fact that everyone is still learning.

“From the multi-tasker who can have an easier time doing research, to someone wanting easy to follow directions and so on, it is the unknown potential of this new form that makes Glass exciting,” he said.

Glass isn’t all glory, however, and has raised concerns about the fit of the glasses as well as inspired discussions about privacy.

Librarian Ben Daigle said when he put the glasses on, he had trouble using them as actual glasses.

“If I’m looking at a sign 30 feet away, I can’t read it without my glasses,” he said. “The image in the machine is blurry just as something would be at a distance. But it wasn’t terribly difficult to figure out.”

Brian Rellinger, Information Services’ chief information officer, explained that Glass inherently raises privacy issues.

“When we first got them, some people react as if it’s an invasion of privacy immediately,” Rellinger said.

Soliday gave more perspective on the concern, explaining that because Glass is so subtle, it makes it difficult for people to realize they are being recorded.

“Glass has no ‘On Air’ light,” Soliday said. “People like to know when they’re being recorded.”

As the technology is still in the beta phases, Google is willing to come up with solutions to problems beta users come across.

Despite the negatives, Rellinger said Google Glass has been received more positively on campus than initially thought.

“When we’re walking around using them, students approach us and say ‘Oh that’s cool, can I try them on? Can I see how that works?’” Rellinger said.


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