Google Glass – the technology to watch

Google Glass
Photo by Antonio Zugaldia (creative commons)

While the tablet and smartphone market has buzzed with developments over the last few years, the level of innovation seems to have temporarily plateaued. New releases from the big players have been limited to making things longer, wider, thinner, higher resolution, or minor operating system tweaks—none of which are gaming changing. Apple are said to be working on a watch, but in fact the real technology to watch is Google’s Google Glass project. If you haven’t done so already then check out the demo videos.

So how does this technology work? The following infographic provides a nice simple explanation.

How Google Glass works infographic
Creative-Commons-Lizenz CC-BY Martin Missfeldt http://www.brille-kaufen.org/en/googleglass/

Why is this a technology to watch?

You might say this is interesting, but who really wants to talk to their glasses and have that information hovering in front of your eye, or given that they are $1500US a pair, they are not going to impact on my classroom any time soon. But, consider how quickly smartphones, tablets, and BYOD policies in schools have taken hold. It is likely that this technology will be in the $500 or less price bracket within the next two years, and how many of your students already have phones in that price bracket?

This technology takes ubiquitous computing to a new level. Mark Weiser, the father of this concept, defined four key concepts of ubiquitous computing:

  1. The purpose of a computer is to help do something else
  2. The best computer is a quiet and invisible servant
  3. Computers should extend the unconcious
  4. Technology should create calm, ie., inform but not demand focus of attention

The iPad and other touch surfaces have helped to bring these concepts, and the tabs, pads and boards that Weiser imagined in 80s and 90s to life. The Google Glass concept, however, takes it to a new level. The computer blends further into our everyday environment, a quiet invisible servant that can be called up with a word in order help us do something, to inform, but not to demand our attention. Just take the GPS function showcased in the Google Glass demo video. In a smartphone context, it too can be called upon to help with finding our way, but it demands our attention, it is difficult to navigate while at the same time looking at the device. In contrast, Google Glass merges the information into our field of vision rather than directing our focus elsewhere.

What is the potential impact on education?

At this stage it is anyone’s guess what the real impact will be on your average classroom. In fact, will your average classroom still exist by the time this level of ubiquitous computing is truly ubiquitous? But following are some things that educators will need to think about before this technology does start to drift in the school gate:

  1. Is it too tricky to know how to handle these devices so should they just be banned from the start in the same way that cellphones were?
  2. Is it a problem that a student could be videoing your entire lesson without you knowing it?
  3. What sort of cyber citizenship education and acceptable use policies will you need to deal with the level of capturing and sharing of photos and videos that these devices allow?
  4. Do you ban these devices from exam situations or do you rethink your whole assessment practice to, instead, integrate the use of them?
  5. Why would your students need to come anywhere near you or your classroom when you can be streaming your reality to them wherever they might be?


What are your thoughts about the impact of this technology on teaching and learning? Share them


Glen Davies Glen Davies is the IT Manager at CORE Education, and responsible for the IT infrastructure for CORE's geographically dispersed workforce. His passion is finding ways to incorporate technology into teaching, learning, and online collaboration.

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  1. chris.mclean@core-ed.org'
    Chris says:

    Thanks for that Glen!

    I came across  "A Day Made of Glass" video recently …

  2. Google Glass – the technology to watch | ... says:

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