Google Glass comes to Bass

Google Glass — a computer system worn like a pair of glasses — will soon become available for student and faculty use at the Bass Library media center.

Google Glass is not yet on the market, but a partnership of three Yale organizations — the Yale University Library, the Student Technology Collaborative (STC) and the Instructional Technology Group (ITG) — applied to beta test the product last year. Ever since Google Glass arrived at Bass in mid-January, the three groups have been exploring the device’s uses and ways to introduce the technology to the greater Yale community. Soon after spring break, student and faculty groups will be able to fill out an online application to use Google Glass for spring or summer projects, and the device is slated to become available for general use beginning in the fall.

“We realized that if we could potentially add this to the Bass media equipment collection, it would be a really interesting collaborative opportunity to see what faculty, students [and] staff could do with it,” said Tom Bruno, associate director for resource sharing and reserves for the library.

Bruno said he received an invitation to purchase the device last summer after expressing interest to Google. The library, STC and ITG are sharing the $1,500 cost of the product, he said.

According to Bruno, representatives of the library, STC and ITG will meet next week to discuss the criteria for evaluating student and faculty proposals for projects involving Google Glass.

Though there is only one device available at the moment, Bruno said Bass may be able to add another Google Glass to its collection later this year. If so, a device may be available for general circulation as early as the fall, he said.

“We hope to be able to add more devices sooner rather than later because there’s already been a lot of interest,” Bruno said. “As Google Glass becomes more mainstream, we expect to it to be just part of the regular rotation of things that go out of the Bass media collection.”

With a frenzy of application development currently underway, Bruno said possibilities abound for Google Glass. Students and faculty could take advantage of any number of the device’s features, including the capability to take video footage, creating a first-person immersive experience for viewers.

Bruno said that depending on the availability of the device, library-specific uses may be developed this summer. For instance, librarians could wear the device to view citation and location information to find books more efficiently. They could also save time by scanning materials on site with a first-person scan-and-deliver application, he said.

“Aside from the definite potential that faculty and students are going to bring to it, I think the library is excited to be an equal partner in this as well, not just to loan the device out but also to see what we could do with it,” Bruno said. Cindy Greenspun, access services information technology manager and a member of the disability services committee, said she believes Google Glass also has the capability to assist the disabled because it is hands-free and voice-activated. For the hearing-impaired, the device could employ a speech-to-text application to provide a real-time transcript of what people are saying, she said.

Over the past year, news outlets such as the New York Times have reported on controversy surrounding Google Glass. According to critics, the device poses a privacy threat to society because of its ability to surreptitiously capture footage and immediately upload it. This summer, eight Congressmen sent a letter to Google demanding answers to privacy concerns. A London-based advocacy group called “Stop the Cyborgs” has campaigned for limits on where the device can be used, and some bars and casinos have banned the device.

Matthew Regan, senior academic technologist for ITG, said students and faculty who wish to use Yale’s Google Glass will be expected to follow Google’s published guide about how to use the device respectfully.

Google announced the technology behind Google Glass in April 2012.

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