How will Google Glass help Disabled People?

Google Glass Logo

Google Glass Logo

Google Glass is a game changing technology that we will look back to and wonder how we did without it, like we do with mobile phones and WiFi!

New developments design for mainstream usage are in fact becoming more inclusive and giving more options for people living with disabilities. Google Glass is one such piece of equipment.

What is Google Glass?

Google Glass is a wearable computer which comes with an optical head-mounted display which is working towards the full development of a ubiquitous computer. Google Glass is being developed as part of the larger Project Glass research and development project. It takes smartphone technology and makes it even more accessible. It displays information just like a smartphone in a hands free format which allows for communication with the internet through natural voice commands.

Google Glass

The Google Glass

Google Glass is fitted with a touchpad on its side and it allows users to control it by swiping thorough its interface on the screen. The interface is much like the standard timeline we’ve come to be familiar with and this swiping motion is the only physical action needed to operate the Glass.

Voice actions are the main way of controlling the device and activating the Glass is as simple as tilting the head upwards (to approximately 30° or a preferred angle that can be altered) or tap the touchpad and say ‘OK Glass.’ Once the Glass is activated only voice actions are required and you can access the range of different facilities offered by the product. Everything from ‘Send a message to Mum’ to ‘get directions to the nearest ATM’ can be found. Search results will be filtered and then read back to the user so they can choose the most fitting one.

Google use innovative bond conduction through a transducer in the product which renders the sound virtually inaudible to others around you, allowing for a private yet interactive computing experience.

The Google Glass headset can be simply connected to your smartphone and the display is a small information screen which hovers in front of one eye. Experts in the field are describing this as the first development in what will be the next big trend – wearable technology. Rather than slipping your smartphone into your pocket you could find you’re utilising glasses, watches and other wearable devices in the near future. Prospective analytics suggest that wearable tech has the potential to be big business with sales projections for the Glass reaching 9.6 million by the end of 2016.

Google Glass for Disability

For disabled people living Google Glass presents an even bigger opportunity. An opportunity to make their environment more accessible through information.  The Glass is much more than a new toy, it can be life affirming or even life changing. Technologists suggest that speech recognition is reaching new levels of precision. They’re actually working towards profoundly deaf people being able to see real-time transcripts of what friends are saying to them in the Glass’ prism. It really could revolutionise communication for many.

Equally the Glass could also be extremely useful for people with visual impairments – with suggestions that it may be possible to take walking directions from the Glass further opening up the world for them.

Below we’re looking at two of the early Google Glass adopters, both of whom are disabled and have had their stories well publicised. How the Glass has helped their lives is truly inspirational and is a positive example of how they can be instrumental for other people living with disabilities in the future.

Tammie Lou Van Sant

Tammie Lou Van Sant -Google Glass User

Tammie Lou Van Sant -Google Glass User

Tammie Lou Van Sant was a keen photographer before a car accident left her living with permanent paralysis. The Google Glass headset has given Van Sant the chance to point and shoot again as she can simply give voice commands. It has allowed her to once again enjoy one of her favourite past times as well as its other functionalities being highly useful such as answering her own phone calls, replying to texts and making small, solo trips out thanks to Google Maps.

Alex Blaszczuk

Alex Blaszczuk is another individual living with permanent paralysis. She submitted her story to the #ifihadaglass competition and was awarded her glass this way. She highlighted how the glass would help her to ‘thrive with physical limitations’. On receiving her Glass she was able to find a new form of self-expression and the video below shows exactly how much of a positive impact it has had upon her life.

Getting Google Glass

Google Glass doesn’t have an official launch date although recent queries to Google on  November 8th suggest it may be out by early 2014. There are no official announcements now so rather than thinking about when you’ll get your own it may be worth beginning to save up!

Google Glass has the potential to revolutionise the lives of millions of disabled people. Some may be able to recapture hobbies and interests that they remember before the effects of an accidents whilst others may enjoy completely new experiences, that they have never had the opportunity to participate in.

Google Glass for Disability Updates

We intend to update this post with people’s personal experiences and applications of the Glass as they develop. Please leave a comment if you have something for us to add.

3 Responses to “How will Google Glass help Disabled People?”

  1. Lucky Google Glass Explorer with CP & Hoping your site will share this & help me be a part of this amazing opportunity I’ve been given!

    My Story:

    Lucky Google Glass Explorer and future software engineer in need of $1500 for her gear! I’m a student currently working to pay for school. I’ve been obsessed with Google glasses since day one, and my dream came true today when I saw an email from Google asking me to become a part of the explorer team. It had been so long since I originally applied for the explorer program that I figured my chance went to someone else. After all, when I wrote Google explaining why I wanted to test Google glass, I told them that I have cerebral palsy and was concerned about my ability to use the product while walking with a limp and limited balance. I thought because I mentioned my CP that’s why I wasn’t picked. Turns out they do want me to test the product! Oh and I almost forgot to mention how jazzed I am about this opportunity.

    I’m a total tech-geek and proud of it, but I don’t have enough money to purchase the Google glasses to be in the program. So I’m asking you Internet to come together and donate whatever you can to help get this awesome technology out into the world! March is also national cerebral palsy awareness month! Your donation will allow me to possibly influence new accessible technology tailored to consumers with disabilities.

    Every dollar makes a difference so share this link with your friends: Rally your fellow redditors, post it, tweet it, instagram it, pin it, email it, hashtag it, snapchat it, blog it. I don’t care how but please get the word out all the way to the end of the Internet and back. I want to raise this money for an opportunity to play a small role in shaping the future of this amazing technology, Google glass. Hello World.

  2. Tom says:

    The Supra shown is not the Supra keybox that you are describing (although the link is to the correct item.) It is worth noting that the actual test which allowed it to carry a level 1 label and be described as being tested by the police, does not allow the use of a hammer or drill or even a large screwdriver, and for it to pass, only has to survive being attacked (with the none of the most likely tools) for 60 seconds. This is NOT a high security device.

  3. Bill Newroe says:

    I have two functional use concerns for both Universal design and uses by persons with disabilities.

    My first concern is being able to switch the touch and camera/viewer from the right Glass stem to the left stem. This key Glass feature should be able to be switched, back-and-forth, as well as having the camera viewer lifted up so it’s not your eyes all the time. That’s a universal design concern.

    Second concern is the use of speech recognition (speech-to-text) and auditory text reading (text-to-speech) be across all the Glass’ features (with Google web Internet searches).

    I think these two concerns should be addressed before going to full market.

    Bill Newroe

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