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UNC athletic department, professors and students try out Google Glass

A video by UNC men’s basketball player Wade Moody documenting warm-ups before a game is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Google Glass’ presence on campus.

Faculty members from various departments are experimenting with the technology through the Glass Explorer program to find uses in both educational and professional settings.

The glasses feature an internal computer which can be operated through voice commands or touch. Google Glass is not currently on the market but can be purchased through an application to its explorer program if Google approves the purchaser’s intended use.

The UNC athletic department is using the innovation to give fans more access to teams, as well as different vantage points within games. The department was able to try out the glasses with the help of former UNC field hockey player Meghan Lyons, who now works with Google Sports Partnerships.

UNC’s School of Government was also selected to be a part of the program this semester, and professors are currently testing the glasses, said Georgia Allen, assistant dean for information technology for the school.

Professor Jeff Welty was one of the first faculty members to test out the glasses. He was chosen because of a blog post he wrote on the potential legal implications for Google Glass, Allen said.

Welty said he thinks the technology is a few years away from being mainstream but said he can imagine many academic uses for the glasses, such as recording diagrams or for students texting professors a question they might be scared to ask out loud.

“Getting real-time feedback on that level and understanding and connection would be fantastic,” he said.

The School of Information and Library Science hosted a presentation in January for those interested in working with Google Glass, hosted by professor Brad Hemminger.

Hemminger now has a group of 10 to 20 students and faculty who meet to facilitate research and empower people to create their own programs.

There is a list of some 80 project ideas that the group has come up with, including telemedicine, where experts could provide guidance from remote locations by seeing exactly what the wearer is looking at.

Many Google Glass users on campus said they think wearable computing technology will become more common in the years to come. Allen said Google Glass is just one of many similar technological innovations out there.

“If you look at the trends in social media and how long that happened — now social media is really part of our culture. I think wearable technology will follow the same trend, perhaps at a faster rate,” Allen said.

Welty said he predicts the technology will become widely used in the next decade.

“It certainly feels like the future. It seems inevitable that we will be wearing computers on our head before too long.”

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