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Tech: Google Glass’ Potential

On Friday, October 13th 2006, I suffered a traumatic brain injury in a near fatal car accident as I was traveling home from boarding school. I was placed in a medically induced coma for six days to relieve brain swelling. I was released four days later to return to school. When I awoke, I could not recognize my parents, brother, friends, or even recall my name. In order to discover what happened to me, I had to read an article in the Boston Globe that my parents had saved. I would recover my memory before my release, but the accident taught me about the fragility of life, memory, and identity. As a survivor of head injury, I believe that wearable computers will offer me the most assistance to overcome my injury.

In 2011, I was fortunate to discover one of the coolest startups for a wonderful storytelling application. Evergram was founded in December 2011, imagined as a powerful new application to collect stories and thoughts to be shared. It can even be used as a personal journal for self-reflection. I recognize the power this application gives to create great moments for genuine communication. I imagine father’s leaving precious wisdom behind, similar to Howard Stark’s recorded remark to Tony in Iron Man 2. In February 2013, Google announced the upcoming beta launch of their newest device, a foray into wearable computers, Google Glass.

Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display that can communicate with the Internet and record video and audio through voice commands. The effortless use of the camera becomes the device’s single greatest triumph as a new technology, and at the same time its biggest impediment to acceptance by the public, due to the possibility for misuse and the invasion of privacy. However, the candid mentality of memory preservation and communication behind Evergram can define and improve the purpose of the platform provided by Google Glass. With its 2014 launch to the public, Glass has tremendous potential to enhance the lives of many, mine included.

School has simply never been the same. Tasks such as note taking, keeping attentive, and participating in discussions became more difficult than before. I had missed eight days of classes — eight days worth of quizzes, tests, notes, and essays. In order to catch up, my school aided me in getting notes from my classmates and in granting me extensions on any missed homework assignments. As helpful as all these measures were, I noticed that nothing compares to being there in the moment — so much learning is achieved simply by being attentive and participating in class. My school established this idea by enforcing punishments, ranging from stricter weekday and weekend curfews to suspension, for missing more than four classes a semester. On top of catching up in class, I had to pursue outpatient therapy to recover from my injuries. Glass could have tremendously eased my recovery, allowing me not only to review the classes I missed, but also to record future classes for better preparation.

After missing out on ten days at school and six actual days of consciousness, I became a severe sufferer of FOMO. I gained a new appreciation for life, enjoying and cherishing every second as a momentous occasion, never again taking it for granted. I realized that there are so many things that I had done, joys and pains experienced, a near infinite amount of memories that would never happen again. I dreamed for a long-time of being able to experience those missed events as someone in the moment, that as easily as I could forget everything defining me, that one day I could just as easily recall, even relive the more intimate memories of my life, and I recognize the opportunity that Google Glass provides to realize this dream.

I introduced Evergram not to suggest some novel, genius way of using Google Glass, but merely point out the way that this revolutionary platform it provides could have and will improve my life. Glass goes far beyond any other device in its ability to capture precious memories whilst avoiding distraction, the loss of attention the user experiences while using technology. Its powerful ability to record from the first-person gives it a distinct advantage for the collection of important memories, reflections, and thoughts. Everyone has a story worth sharing with someone at some time, and everyone deserves the ability to share it. Perhaps, it is the dreamer in me, but I imagine a future where our great defining memories can be shared to achieve the truest sense of genuine communication, an ability to not only tell someone something, but also to show them. I see Google Glass as a critical platform in achieving this bright future of memory preservation. With the development of Glass, Evergram, and many more apps, neither discussed nor created yet, I see the possibility created for the easy collection and transmission of memories and thoughts. Google Glass remains the next major device of wearable technology to empower its users to enjoy, share, improve, and remember their lives.

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Technology: If the device fits, wear it…but only if the price is right

wearables will potentially increase the number of devices accessing networks by a hundred-fold over the next five to seven years.

THE technology rumour mills are, as ever, running hot. This time it’s all about wearable computing devices.

Google Glass controversial web-connected specs are due to hit the market some time this year; up to 10,000 pairs are said to be already on the faces of testers worldwide.

And an increasing number of feverish reports claim yet again that Apple is close to announcing a wrist-worn i-Watch.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has been sighted wearing one. It’s said to be a Pebble, mainly used for tracking fitness, but who knows? Perhaps it’s a prototype iWatch in disguise. DoubleClick doesn’t know whether the rumours are right or not.

But we do know the computing market hype machine has sprung into life in recent months, with just about every major manufacturer other than Apple announcing plans for a wearable gadget, and many more minor ones and wannabes bouncing ideas for similar gadgets on KickStarter, the website that helps raise funds for startups.

Some pundits are proclaiming the Year of the Wearable, but DoubleClick has some doubts, as do some of the more cautious IT trends-consulting firms.

Many wearable gadgets are on the way, but early acceptance may be restrained, and it could be next year before the market begins to take off, if then.

There are two types of wearable devices: things worn on your face, like Google Glass, and those worn on your wrist or arm, which include fitness-reading bands such as the Jawbone as well as e-watches like the Pebble.

Google Glass is certainly the most controversial of the moosh-mounted wearables. You wear a small headset that looks like a pair of very slim specs, but which has a little display device mounted just above your right eye.

It can take pictures of what’s around you and record conversations, sometimes unbeknown to those nearby. It can also display weather reports, phone messages and so-called “augmented reality” information about nearby objects, perhaps bars or restaurants or maybe supermarket items.

Wearing Google Glass in a bar or restaurant is strictly a no-no, and they’re also frowned on in company meetings. In the US, several people have been nabbed for wearing them while driving.

Current test versions of Google Glass sell to approved folk for about $US1500 ($1674), but this is expected to come down to $500 or so if and when the things come to market.

Google won’t have this market to itself. Other makers who already have head-mounted gear in the market, or are planning to, include Oculus, PivotHead, Epson, and Lumus.

Then there’s the Avegant Glyph headset, a heavyweight affair that wraps right around your eyes and ears. It doesn’t display information on a screen — it delivers movies, video games and video calls direct on to your retinas. Safe? Let’s hope so.

In the wristband wearable department, a typical example is the Jawbone Up, sometimes described as a pedometer disguised as a bracelet. It coils around your wrist and measures three matters: how you move, how you sleep, and what you eat.

Like most other wearables, you must plug it into a mobile phone to transfer data to an app that stores the figures. The Jawbone Up sells in Australia for about $150.

Other fitness trackers include Nike’s FuelBand and Garmin’s forthcoming Vivofit.

Samsung since September has been marketing the $369 Gear, an e-wristwatch that links to its Galaxy smartphone and Note phablets. It notifies users of incoming phone messages, displays weather reports, includes a tiny camera and captures voice recordings. Yes, it also tells the time.

Sony has been in the wearable market longer than most with its SmartWatch, which sells for about $240 in Australia.

But at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Sony unveiled a forthcoming and completely different wrist device: the Core, a very slim band that is not so much a fitness tracker as a lifestyle logger. You wear it always, and it tracks your movements, your sleep patterns, your movie watching and even the weather on a particular day.

Linked to Sony’s LifeLog app, it gives a record of everything you’ve done, day in and day out, possibly even some things you don’t want to be reminded of. Pricing and release date are yet to be revealed.

US-based Pebble has produced a number of reasonably successful e-watches. The latest, dubbed the Steel, is good looking in steel and Gorilla Glass and has a growing number of apps that can be swapped on and off via iPhone or Android mobiles.

The Steel can be ordered from Pebble’s US-based online store at getpebble.com, $US249 ($278). Standard (ie, slow) shipping is free; courier delivery within five business days costs $28.

Other outfits that have announced plans to launch wearable gadgets in coming months, among them Taiwan’s Acer, Asus and HTC and South Korea’s LG, though details are sparse.

Is there a place for all. How big will the wearable market get?

Nowhere near as big as some of the wild estimates coming out of the US and Asia, according to Deloitte consulting.

At a media briefing in Sydney a few weeks ago, Deloitte executives suggested that the smart fitness-band market, while moderately healthy, would never go mainstream.

It estimated the total market for fitness bands and smart watches this year would be about four million bands and two million watches: pretty small beer compared with the booming markets for smartphones and tablets.

Deloitte suggested smart glasses would generate more revenue — especially from businesses and mining groups, where they might fill a niche for safety products — with sales of about four million at an average $US500 each.

DoubleClick’s advice: even if your interest in the wearable genre has been piqued, don’t rush to the stores just yet.

There’s hopefully better stuff -maybe even something that’s really useful — and lower prices yet to come.

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ITPRO: Google Glass: 10 use cases for wearable technology

As Virgin Atlantic and NYPD trial Google Glass, we look at the other potential business uses…

Google has yet to confirm a release date for Glass, but the technology is already being trialed by a variety of industries including airlines, hospitals and police forces.

Having tried the latest version of Glass, we can see the potential of the device. The ability to take photos and video as well as bring up information from the internet via the head-mounted display make Glass a powerful tool. Despite Glass still being in the beta phase, it’s real-world applications are there for all to see and we take a look at 10 scenarios where it will be a good fit.

1. Healthcare

Glass can make a huge difference in hospitals to increase the efficiency of staff and accuracy of treatment given to patients.

The camera will play a pivotal role – allowing nurses or doctors to scan barcodes and NFC tags to identify patients, bring up medical records and verify the correct medication and dosage is being applied. Below we can see how SAP envisages Glass could be used in combination with its HANA technology.

 

Surgeons have already used Glass during operations. Sharing videos via Hangouts allows them to impart knowledge to students and seek real-time assistance from specialists who may be halfway across the world.

 

During operations, the HUD can also provide important images to surgeons, meaning that they don’t have move away from the patient. On the compliance side, recording the surgery can be used to find out why something went wrong during the the procedure, and help settle any complaints.

 

2. Airports

 

This week, Virgin Atlantic commenced a six-week trial of Google Glass at Heathrow airport. The airline announced Glass will be used by concierge staff at the Upper Class wing, with the aim of providing a more personalised customer service.

 

Glass will be used to process check-ins and provide passengers with information about their flight, as well as details of the weather and suggested activities at their destination. It can also aid translation queries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virgin will consider a wide-scale deployment and will work on improving functionality if it deems the trial successful. Other potential applications include the ability to provide staff with details of passenger’s dietary requirements.

 

3. Augmented Reality 

 

Glass can superimpose information over real-world happenings, which will allow the tourism and leisure industry to enhance and support the customer experience.

 

City and museum tours can be brought to life by overlaying historicals buildings and artwork with key facts or audio descriptions. Users will also be able to take pictures and video and email the files to themselves so they can capture memories hands-free.

 

If Glass ends up being mainstream, as Google hopes, then a few years from now we will be living in an augmented reality world. Simple tasks like food and clothes shopping will be revamped. Apps could be developed allowing Glass to highlight the health benefits of foods and any promotions. Retail assistants will be able help customers with their queries on the shop-floor by providing information on products and checking stock levels.

Even the construction, retail and real estate agencies will benefit from augmented reality. When designing buildings, bridges and vehicles, the architects, builders and engineers will be able to pop on Glass and see what the finished article should look like, instead of relying on 2D blueprints or pictures.

Similarly, those selling or letting houses will be able to provide real-world tours without having to get clients to visits all properties. This could save the buyers/renters time as they would only need to visit houses in the real world they like the look of in the virtual world.

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Global Travel Industry News: Virgin Atlantic first in world to use wearable technology to serve passengers

Virgin Atlantic passengers will be the first air travelers to experience the benefits of pioneering Google Glass and Sony Smartwatch technology as they arrive at London Heathrow airport, in an innovative pilot scheme which starts today. Concierge staff in the airline’s Upper Class Wing will be using wearable technology to deliver the industry’s most high tech and personalized customer service yet.

Virgin Atlantic first in world to use  wearable technology to serve passengers

The cutting-edge technology is being introduced asVirgin Atlantic publishes the results of a major study of 10,000 airline passengers from across the world on the future of air travel. The results show that as the number of people travelling by plane has sky-rocketed in recent decades, the experience has lessened. Virgin Atlantic is joining with passengers and calling on the industry to introduce more innovations and radical fresh thinking to meet sky-high consumer expectations.

Virgin Atlantic, in collaboration with air transport IT specialist SITA, is the first in the industry to test how the latest wearable technology, including Google Glass, can best be used to enhance customers’ travel experiences and improve efficiency. From the minute Upper Class passengers step out of their chauffeured limousine at Heathrow’s T3 and are greeted by name, Virgin Atlantic staff wearing the technology will start the check-in process. At the same time, staff will be able to update passengers on their latest flight information, weather and local events at their destination and translate any foreign language information. In future, the technology could also tell Virgin Atlantic staff their passengers’ dietary and refreshment preferences – anything that provides a better and more personalized service. During the six-week pilot, the benefits to consumers and the business will be evaluated ahead of a potential wider roll-out in the future.

Virgin Atlantic’s new solution replaces an existing process for serving passengers traveling in the Upper Class Wing, the airline’s premium entrance at Heathrow dedicated to Upper Class passengers. Airline staff are equipped with either Google Glass or a Sony SmartWatch 2, which is integrated to both a purpose-built dispatch app built by SITA and the Virgin Atlantic passenger service system. The dispatch app manages all task allocation and concierge availability. It pushes individual passenger information directly to the assigned concierge’s smart glasses or watch just as the passenger arrives at the Upper Class Wing.

Dave Bulman, Director of IT, Virgin Atlantic, said: “While it’s fantastic that more people can now fly than ever before, the fact that air travel has become so accessible has led to some of the sheen being lost for many passengers. Our wearable technology pilot with SITA makes us the first in the industry to test how Google Glass and other wearable technology can improve the customer experience. We are upholding Virgin Atlantic’s long tradition of shaking things up and putting innovation at the heart of the flying experience.”

Jim Peters, Chief Technology Officer, SITA said: “2014 is shaping up to be the breakout year for wearable technology, and Virgin Atlantic is the first to bring its vision to reality. At SITA Lab, we’ve taken the lead in testing and trialing this new technology for the air transport industry, and it’s been fantastic to work with Virgin Atlantic to launch the industry’s first wearable technology application.”

Virgin Atlantic continues to push the boundaries with other technological advancements with SITA, including testing iBeacon with its Upper Class passengers at Heathrow, a new low-powered Bluetooth transmitter that can notify nearby iOS Apple devices of nearby services, discounts and updates on their flight boarding schedules. In addition, Virgin Atlantic’s newly enhanced mobile site means passengers will be able to book flights, check in online and check their flight status on the move, while also having access to the vast range of information on the main website, including destination and airport guides as well as details of baggage allowances and much more.

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Liberity Voice: Flexible Gold Wires to Revolutionize Wearable Tech Apple Listening?

Apple

Apple could soon make a run for the research reports of Yi Chen and his team of nano-material researchers from Australia. The team has developed a revolutionary ultrathin gold wire with highly sensitive and flexible pressure sensors which hold immense potential in the field of medicine and wearable tech. Study co-author, Willem Schwalb, is hoping that Apple is listening to the positive reviews to the outcome of their research, especially with the much rumored iWatch launch lurking around the corner.

The technology developed by the team relies on a symbiotic mixing of gold salts with oleylamine to achieve the desired nanowires which has a thread-like appearance. It takes almost two days for the chemical reaction between the salt and the chemical to complete. After the chemical reaction culminates, the nano-threads are then placed in contact with a material which acts like a giant soaking paper towel. The golden threads get absorbed by this tissue-material and which is then sandwiched between a couple of sleek rubber sheets.

Chen clarifies that all the sheets used are thin which ensures that the total thickness of the entire assembly remains at .02 inches. When pressure is applied to this sheet, a change in electrical flow through it can be read to initiate appropriate output, thus used as a ultra-sensitive pressure sensor.

The sensors are a sensible choice for technology innovators for two very fundamental and yet the most important criteria it meets. Power consumption and flexibility have been the focal point of all manufacturers concentrating on creating highly efficient wearable devices. With minimal energy consumption at a battery voltage of 1.5volt and resistance to breakage from bending, excessive vibration and brute force, the gold nano-wires are an ideal step towards a great future for wearable tech.

A revolutionary set of sensors is long awaited in the wearable tech arena and companies like Apple along with Samsung would be closely listening to every word that Chen’s team would have to disclose about their innovative flexible gold wires. Another feature of these wires that would hold particular interest to these companies would be the ultra sensitivity of the nano-wires and along with nano response time to touch, as claimed by researches. This feature gives it an edge over any other existing pressure sensing tech available and should be soon adopted by many companies to go one up against their competitors immediately.

The problem with current crop sensors is its reliance on brittle semiconductor materials which requires a clean room to fabricate. Creating dust and contamination free environment for production of the sensors escalates the cost further. The gold nano-wires, however, require no such extravagant conditions to produce, resulting in a cost friendly solution for companies.

As is being witnessed, touch screens and touch operated devices have started to become a part of the general lifestyle with ATM’s to aircraft carriers, all using the technology in some form. However, the current cost of manufacturing is expensive and innovators have been constantly in search for cheaper alternatives. That the answer was ultimately found in gold is itself ironic considering that the metal’s price has reached sky-high proportions across the world.

The development also rings-in good news for the medical field owing to its ability to mimic human skin sensitivity, paving way for artificial skin to be developed. With an initial utility in reading physical data like blood pressure etc, artificial skin presents unlimited exciting possibilities to scientists for the medical field. With technology companies already focusing their attention to the multi-billion dollar medical and fitness industry, anyone claiming superiority over such tech would definitely race ahead.

It may also be recalled that Apple top executives had recently met FDA bosses, possibly to discuss Apple’s tech expansion and its implications in the health industry. Tweets have been flowing around to announce “Apple Gets Health and Fitness Conscious” and the meeting with top executives of both Apple and FDA in attendance would have been held to discuss some major innovation.

Irrespective, of the outcome of the meeting, the legion of Apple fans are awaiting for the next hi-tech device to be released by Apple. Apple should definitely benefit from the flexible gold wires developed by the team lead by Yi Chen and the world would be listening closely for the next touch screen revolution to ring its first bell.

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Mashable: Google Glass Gets Prescription Frames: Everything You Need to Know

Glass-frame-red

For early adopters of Google Glass, it’s been a demand from the start: a version that is friendly to prescription lenses. Those people’s prayers were answered early Tuesday when Google announced it would begin selling several “designer” pairs of glasses that are compatible with Glass, called the Titanium Collection.

Before yesterday, near- and farsighted Glass Explorers needed to either wear contact lenses while using Glass (as I do) or pinch the nose piece tightly so the Glass prism extends far enough away from your normal glasses. A few intrepid explorers have managed to jerry-rig the core Glass hardware onto a custom frame, but it’s a risky endeavor.

Starting Tuesday, anyone with Glass can buy the new custom frames directly from Google. The company is also offering some new styles of removable twist-on shades for those that thought the original might have been a little too Terminator-esque.

Still, there’s a little fine print. From insurance to benefits to design, here’s what you need to know about the latest accessory for Google Glass.

Why is Google now offering prescription frames?

It was always part of the plan. Google has been rolling out Glass slowly since the first explorers got units in April 2013. Some thought Google might wait for the commercial release of Glass before offering prescription frames, but Google’s Glass guides say they’ve been getting requests for them ever since the first units were released into the wild, and it appears the company fast-tracked their development.

When can I buy them?

If you’re a Glass Explorer, you can head over to the Glass store now, pick your frame and proceed to checkout. You’ll need Glass first, however, and it’s not for sale to the public until later this year — and even then you might need to climb aboard a barge to get it. Google is still letting people sign up for the Explorer program, and you can do that through the site, but the device itself still costs $1,500.

How much are they?

The frames cost $225 each, plus tax. There are four to choose from: Thin, Curved, Bold and Split, and you can view them all on Google’s promotional page. The Glass guides say the Thin frames are more suited for men, while women may favor the Bold or Curved look. Split frames “look good on everybody,” one rep said.

Who designed them?

Google. Although there were rumors that the company was partnering with Warby Parker to make some hip frames for Glass, it decided to design them in-house. It’s also offering the frames in the same colors as Glass: Charcoal (gray), Cotton (white), Shale (dark gray), Tangerine (red) and Sky (blue).

How do I get them? Do I need to send my existing Glass back?

No, hang on to your Glass — this isn’t the same as the “upgrade” to the more current edition. All you need to do is order the frames through the Glass Store, and Google will ship them out to you right away. The frames come with placeholder lenses, and once you’ve put in your own, you can remove the Glass prism unit and battery, and attach them to the new frames.

Oh, so I need to buy lenses separately?

Yes. The idea is you buy the frames, then take them to an optician, who will craft the lenses.

How long does that take?

According to VSP, the eye-care provider Google is partnering with for its launch, the frames need to be shipped to VSP’s lab in order to get the best fit, then they’re shipped back. So probably a few days, at best.

Will my vision insurance cover this?

That depends on your plan. Most vision plans specify how much money you can put toward lenses and frames in a calendar year, and these would count against those quotas, if they even pay for it at all. If your provider is VSP, they’ll be covered, and its network of trained providers will even reattach the Glass hardware for you.

So as long as it’s VSP?

Right. If not, it’s up to you to reattach the hardware yourself. It’s not that hard — there’s a single screw that attaches the Glass prism to the frame — so we’re not talking extensive repairs.

What if I hate all the styles Google provides? Is there any way I can use my own frames with Glass?

There is, but they’re all a compromise. A few explorers, such as the unlucky gentleman who wasrecently questioned by Homeland Security for wearing Glass in a movie theater, have modified their own prescription frames to work with Glass, but there’s no set way to do it — and it usually means permanently altering your existing frames.

Some explorers simply adjust the nose piece of Glass so it rests over and above their existing frames, although that has two consequences: First, Glass juts even further out from your face, and second, you end up wearing two pairs of “glasses.”

Finally, there are a few third parties who have built or have committed to building frames for Google Glass.

Can I switch to the left side?

No. Glass is currently designed to be worn on the right side, and the new frames don’t change that.

And it still looks like I’ve got a weird plastic rod sticking out of my head?

Pretty much. Glass is still ostentatious, and the frames don’t change that. They do add a new level of style and convenience, though, and Google certainly isn’t done creating accessories for its head-mounted computer. Stay tuned.

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