Google Glass might pass as a regular pair of glasses, if not for the small screen over the user's right eye.
But for Chad Smith, a developer at Sullivan Higdon & Sink, it's become almost second nature — even if it is a little awkward to wear in public.
Smith is one of about 8,000 people nationwide who were allowed to buy a pair of the glasses for about $1,500. The exclusivity factor can make it more appealing to consumers, Smith said of Google's limited release of the glasses.
Google Glass allows users to post on social media, take and share photos and video, send text and video messages — and for some developers, the bounds are endless. Google is allowing those who bought the product and develop applications for it as they discover new uses.
For instance, Smith recently created an app for Glass that heralds back to the days of faxing; he can take a picture and send it to a fax machine.
He's also created a few other apps that help him in his work, including checking Web traffic and even his personal banking.
When you first turn it on, a screen displays “ok glass.' The user can speak commands for what to do and can scroll through menus by sliding a finger across the frame of the device or simply moving their head up and down.
Smith isn't sure is it will ever become completely mainstream, and may just be used by those who are more tech-savvy and open to it.
“I don't necessarily see your parents or grandparents using it,' he said.
PREVENTING DRIVER FATIGUE
Another Wichitan with Glass is Jibo He, a native of China. He has spent years studying driver fatigue and now is using Glass in an attempt to save lives.
He is an assistant psychology professor at Wichita State who used to work for State Farm Insurance as a driver safety researcher where he developed technology, including smart phone apps, to detect driver fatigue. He also can program in 10 computer languages.
When He first heard about Glass, he knew he had to get it. His Glass app, aptly named “Fatigue Sensing,' was recently finished, and he hopes it will be released in the near future.
Insurance companies are especially interested in detecting and preventing driver fatigue, He said.
“They need to assess how risky the driver is ... even if they don't get any revenue out of Google Glass, by making people drive safer, they will pay less money,' He said. “If a driver dies, they can pay up to $100,000. With thousands of deaths a year, that's millions in potential savings.'
He is currently studying whether Glass is safe to use while driving. The United Kingdom is currently considering whether it should ban Glass while driving and He wants to be able to provide research to help governments make more informed decisions.
“Google designed this product in a hope to reduce distraction,' he said. “But currently there is no data on whether Google Glass makes driving safer or worse. I'm currently researching how Google Glass influences people's driving performance. A lot of drivers, researchers, governments and lawyers are interested in whether it's safe.'
He also hopes to make an app for Glass that serves as a training device for new drivers on whether they're driving at an appropriate speed or scanning their environment.
Whether Glass takes off with the general public will depend on how the company prices it and how much effort it devotes to the product, He said.
Google was recently awarded a patent for its “Pay-per-gaze' technology, which is a system that will charge advertisers whenever the user was detected looking at an advertisement on the screen.
“With this technology, I think Google is trying to develop another core technology for its business,' He said. “I think it will bring a lot of opportunities in the industries of health, insurance, automobiles and aerospace.'
For Coty Smith — no relation to Chad Smith — Google Glass has the ability to connect people even more to their environment.
“What if I were able to go to a restaurant and see not only which of my friends are here or have been here and the latest reviews from Yelp and for it to appear passively on the Glass display and not have to do a lot of interaction on my phone?' he said.
So far, Smith said he hasn't developed any apps for his Glass, and he's planning on relocating to Ireland soon. But he plans to continue to look into geolocation development — or the ability for a device to recognize where you are and show custom information based on your location — after he moves.
Smith, who works for LogMeIn as a service engineer, said he's always been a proponent for wearable technology and integrating it into everyday life.
“It's not meant to distract (the user) from real life. It's meant to enhance it, so we'll continue to adopt those types of paradigms,' he said.
When he's traveling or wearing the device in public, Smith said he's often stopped by people who recognize it.
“I've probably been stopped by more than 300 people since mid-June,' he said.
Networked technology also will become more popular and is already being developed, Smith said.
“We're going to see people use 'smartwatches' and headsets and having that interact with the rest of their Internet-connected devices — the TV, computer, microwave, refrigerator. You'll walk by your fridge, and it will tell you that you haven't grocery shopped in the last two weeks and here's the list you made and display it on your Glass.'