Augmented reality glasses. Sounds like something out of science fiction or Back to the Future, right? But it’s real, it’s awesome and it’s called Google Glass – and it offers some incredible new opportunities for independence for people living with disabilities.
Google Glass is a wearable pair of super high-tech glasses that connects to your smart phone, and displays info on a tiny screen in front of your eye. All 100% hands-free. You can take a picture or record a video with just your voice. Make dinner reservations, look up directions, find movie reviews, ask questions, get translations, receive public alerts, send text messages – everything you can do with your smart phone, you can now do without needing your hands.
You can imagine the opportunities this offers people living with disabilities. Take Tammie Van Sant, one of the Google Glass explorers (first round of users). She is living with quadriplegia and had to give up her photography hobby after her injury. But Glass has allowed her to return to what she loves. In an interview with Mashable, she said:
Google Glass has given me a whole new world. For 18 years, I wasn’t able to take pictures whenever I wanted. I can’t even describe how amazing that is. I can answer the phone and actually hear the person on the other end and they can hear me. When I get a text, I can read what the text says on the little prism and answer it.
And brilliants minds all over the world are coming up with new updates and applications for Glass every day. Google is currently working with researchers at Georgia Tech to develop Glass applications for those with Parkinson’s and muscular distrophy, and researchers from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Rochester are discovering ways Glass can help those with blindness.
But here’s the really cool thing about Google Glass: it’s part of the mainstream. For the most part, adaptive tech and tools have been developed by medical companies, special products designed only for people living with disabilities. But Google Glass is designed for everyone. Not just the able-bodied or people living with disabilities. Everyone. And as the trend in wearable tech continues (and it will), these products will become more readily available, versatile and cheaper. And that can bust some previously padlocked doors wide open for people living with disabilities.
Right now, Google Glass has a high price tag and is not available on shelves. But it will be… hopefully very soon. To be one of the first notified when they become available, you can sign up for alerts here.
Check out the video below to see Google Glass in action.
What do you think? When it becomes widely available, will you get one?