How Google Glass could change the future

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Last year I visited Paris for the first time. My chief anxiety about going there was the language barrier. For me, part of the fun of visiting new places is to get a taste of what the people there are like. But not being able to speak French prevented me from getting that. I had a translation app on my smartphone; but of course, consulting my phone every second during a live conversation was a nonstarter.

The microphone on the glasses would be able to hear what is being said to you, and then translate it into English on the lens. It could even speak it as English into the glasses' earpiece. Responding with the right words is a little more difficult. You would have to speak your response into the microphone on the glasses, and then let the servers display the words in French on the display, at which point you'd speak the words in French.

This would introduce some gaps in the conversation, but it might not tank the conversation altogether. Of course, the person you were talking to might be fully aware of the role of the glasses in the conversation. But the translation apps of the future might recognize the content of Jean-Marc's speech, and suggest some common responses.

Medical emergencies

Most of us have taken CPR training at some point in the past, but how many of us could actually perform the duty if someone collapsed right next to us? Chances are we would be terrified and would have a hard time remembering our training. But the situation might be different if we could call up a program to walk us through the process of saving the distressed person's life.

Such an app would display simple instructions on the screen and voice it in the earpiece of the glasses. The program might use the camera to help the wearer zero in on the right place to position the heel of the hand on the victim's chest before starting compressions. The app would watch the user's actions and advise the wearer when to switch from giving breath to doing chest compressions.

Very advanced apps might even be able to watch the reaction of the victim and advise the person performing CPR of when to adjust the next steps or when to quit performing CPR. If connected to the 911 emergency communications system, the application could perhaps downlink a teleconference line to an ER doctor, who could see see through your glasses and walk you through the steps needed to keep the patient alive until help arrived.

Just knowing that such powerful information was within reach might give us the confidence to perform CPR more effectively. The information displayed in the glasses, when delivered in real-time and adapted to the minute-by-minute needs of patients, could very well save lives.

Travel information

Travel is data-intensive. You're constantly accessing information from print sources or electronically to help get you to the right place at the right time to catch a vehicle to take you to the next stage of the trip. And you're usually trying to access that data in the midst of your travels—while you're waiting for a taxi or walking through the airport concourse toward your gate. Your hands are holding luggage and other things, so using wearable technology to access your travel data seems like just the ticket.

With Google Glass you could use voice commands to pull up travel information on the lens. The content could be anything from ground transportation data to flight numbers to rooms available in hotels at your destination.

During travel, you may be moving through places that are completely foreign to you. Navigating through large airports or subway systems (try Tokyo's!) can be daunting, especially when the signage is in a foreign language. The glasses could translate all the signs and give you step-by-step directions, with routes and landmarks overlaid on your field of vision. With everything decoded, the unfamiliar environment would seem more welcoming, and your stress level would go down.

Wi-Fi detection and measurement

A Wi-Fi signal locator and speed measurement app would place a Wi-Fi icon next to the base stations within the wearer's field of vision, and the icon would grow larger or smaller depending on the strength of the signal being transmitted.

In another mode, the glasses might cast a green hue over areas where one or more Wi-Fi signals are strong, and cast a red hue over weak Wi-Fi environments. They could provide similar graphic representations of cellular signal strength.

Another app might poll crowdsourced databases to find out where free Wi-Fi is available, and might even provide quick directions on how to get there.

Next page: Cure your fear of public speaking...

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