How Google Glass Can Be Used In Education

August 16th, 2013 4 Comments Features

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Google Glass In Education

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Wearable technology refers to devices that can be worn by users, taking the form of an accessory such as jewelry, sunglasses, a backpack, or even actual items of clothing such as shoes or a jacket. The benefit of wearable technology is that it can conveniently integrate tools, devices, power needs, and connectivity within a user’s everyday life and movements.

One of the most popular incarnations of the technology was the calculator watch, which was introduced in the 1980s. Since then, the field has advanced significantly, but the overarching theme behind the technology remains the same – convenience. These tools are portable, light weight, and often take the place of an accessory the user already wears, such as a t-shirt, glasses, or wrist-watch, making them easy to take anywhere.

Google’s “Project Glass” features one of the most talked about current examples –  the device resembles a pair of glasses, but with a single lens. A user can see information about their surroundings displayed in front of them, such as the names of friends who are in close proximity, or nearby places to access data that would be relevant to a research project.

Wearable technology is still very new, but one can easily imagine accessories such as gloves that enhance the user’s ability to feel or control something they are not directly touching. Wearable technology already in the market includes clothing that charges batteries via decorative solar cells, allows interactions with a user’s devices via sewn-in controls or touch pads, or collects data on a person’s exercise regimen from sensors embedded in the heels of their shoes.

Currently, the number of new wearable devices in the consumer sector seems to be increasing daily, greatly outpacing the implementation of this technology at universities. The education sector is just beginning to experiment with, develop, and implement wearable technologies, though the potential applications are significant and vast (via kendall at dh fashion). Smart jewelry or other accessories could alert students working in chemical laboratories to hazardous conditions, while wearable cameras can instantly capture hundreds of photographs or data about a user’s surroundings on an offsite geology dig that can be later accessed via email or other online application.

One of the most compelling potential outcomes of wearable technology in higher education is productivity. Wearable technologies that could automatically send information via text, email, and social networks on behalf of the user, based on voice commands, gestures, or other indicators, would help students and educators communicate with each other, keep track of updates, and better organize notifications.

Thinkgeek’s InPulse Smart Notification watch is relatively affordable at $150 and works with Android devices to enable users to view and organize emails, texts, phone calls, and other notifications.

A new brain-sensing headband called Muse displays a user’s brain activity directly on their smartphone or tablet. The ultimate goal for development is that users will be able to control televisions and other electronic devices merely by thinking about them.

Some current research and development efforts at the university level are related to sensory improvement, such as gloves that enhance responsive feeling when performing surgery or interacting with scientific equipment. The MIT Media Lab is taking this notion a step further by allowing users to turn any surface into an interface with SixthSense, a tool consisting of a pocket projector, a mirror, and a camera. The hardware components inside this pendant-like wearable device project information onto any surface, while the camera recognizes and tracks a user’s hand gestures.

Another significant area of interest for education is wearable flexible displays. Samsung, LG, Sony, and a number of other technology companies have already created light-emitting diode (LED) displays that can

wrap around furniture and other curved surfaces, and Erogear has developed a display that can be integrated into different types of clothing. Advancements in this area could eventually make smartphones, tablets, and other computing devices obsolete.

Professor Thad Starner at Georgia Tech University founded the Contextual Computing Group to develop applications and interfaces that can be worn. Projects include a mobile sign language translator, a wearable pendant that recognizes and translates one’s hand gestures into actions, and an application designed to make a tablet pressure-sensitive so it monitors tremor in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Although wearable technology is not yet pervasive in higher education, it will increase in impact as enabling technologies gain traction in the consumer market.


Saga Briggs is an author at InformED. You can follow her on Twitter@sagamilena or read more of her writing here.

4 Responses

  1. Alex Morris says:

    I’ve not used it yet (and probably won’t for some time) but this does seem very intriguing. The potential is incredible, not just for a learning tool as well. However, don’t forget to give your kids a book from time to time! I kind of feel like technology is dominating everything these days. The Wind in the Willows seems very far away.

  2. Michael Sparace says:

    Unfortunately some of the ways data presented in the infographic would be collected might trouble some people. With the current privacy issues floating around in the tech world right now many of the ideas presented would face backlash. Sure this technology has the potential to revolutionize classroom teaching. It can give the teacher a huge amount of relevant data on students or the environment around them in real time in a non obtrusive manor (to the person wearing them). Thing is, we’d need to start collecting huge amounts of data on students to supply google glass apps with enough information for those algorithms to work.

    Facial recognition means at minimum gathering facial profiles of each student and associating it with identifying info. Displaying information about a student’s academic background means that information will need to more accessible. Anything trying to create customized learning / customized assignments will require a large dataset of previous work performed by the student, their interests, and the best ways for them to learn. Imagine for a second if the location that stored that information was compromised (because as with all cybersecurity it’s generally a matter of “when” not “if”).

    I love google glass and will probably be one of the first to purchase a pair when they hit the open market, but there are major privacy concerns that just aren’t going away.

    • Andrianes Pinantoan says:

      Hi Michael, thanks for the awesome comment! There are definitely a lot of issues to be addressed – privacy being one of them. Glass is, after all, first of its kind. These are just ideas, and many of them, I suspect, won’t see the light of day. But I will also note that we don’t know what we don’t know: there might be a solution to all this that human kind might not have thought of… yet.

  3. A Grayson says:


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