The full potential of Google Glass is still being tapped, but a new application for the wearable technology is helping deaf students explore the universe.
A group at Brigham Young University has been hard at work on "Signglasses," a special app that projects American Sign Language narration onto a Google Glass lens during presentations. In a demonstration video, a deaf student can more easily grasp a lesson in a planetarium while using Google Glass, instead of switching her focus between narration and the stars.
The project is being led by Associate Professor Mike Jones and several BYU student researchers, some of whom are hearing impaired, a press release from the university states. One of them is Tyler Foulger, who was born deaf.
“My favorite part of the project is conducting experiments with deaf children in the planetarium,” Foulger says in the release. “They get to try on the glasses and watch a movie with an interpreter on the screen of the glasses. They're always thrilled and intrigued with what they've experienced. It makes me feel like what we are doing is worthwhile.”
The student researchers' work on Signglasses received funding support from the National Science Foundation, and just as two other deaf students joined Jones' computer science class, the Sorenson Impact Foundation contributed funding as well.
“Having a group of students who are fluent in sign language here at the university has been huge,” Jones says. “We got connected into that community of fluent sign language students and that opened a lot of doors for us.”
The BYU team is working with researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology to expand the technology's use as a literacy tool. Jones says he plans to publish the team's findings later this month.
Glass has been the poster child for experimentation with wearable tech. Google gave the technology to educators and students well ahead of its official release on May 15. The wearable technology trend is still in its infancy, but massive growth is projected, according to The New York Times. Industry analysts already have identified some of the technology's potential effects on education — particularly in how it could ease instructional video recording and consumption.
Check out this infographic that breaks down the basics of Google's wearable technology. It outlines a variety of possible uses for Glass as well as the challenges to widespread adoption of the wearable technology.