Monday, March 18, 2013

'Glass' could help people with disabilities

Google's project Glass offers 'augmented reality' - computer and smart phone technology - through a pair of glass spectacles.

Google's Glass project
Glass is controlled via voice commands, rather than any form of keyboard. It also superimposes text over the view through the glasses - a form of the 'heads up display' being installed in the windscreens of planes and - soon - some cars.

To promote Glass, Google ran a competition online - 'If I Had Glass' - that attracted thousands of ideas (sorry - it closed on February 27). Many of these consisted, essentially, of doing the sorts of things that we do already on laptops and tablets, e.g. presenting reviews of hotels and restaurants, analysing information about meals and workouts to track daily calorie turnover. More interestingly, disability advocacy group Media Access Australia (MAA) ( has grasped the potential for Glass to enhance the lives of people with disabilities.

So Che was an early adopter of Glass!
MAA's suggestions concern three areas. The first is mobility, where the device's reliance on voice commands could enable people with conditions (e.g. arthritis, quadriplegia) that restrict their mobility to perform tasks normally associated with keyboards. Secondly, Glass could help people with impaired hearing. Already, it can display captions automatically; as the software develops, Glass could convert speech to text and superimpose it over the view through the glasses, 'essentially making real life conversation captioned' (MAA) and providing access to information communicated aurally (e.g. train time updates). Finally, while Glass has been developed with only sighted users in mind, MAA sees opportunities for it to assist people with sight impairments. 'For instance, Glass could integrate facial recognition software so that blind users are made aware of who is in front of them. Similarly, Glass could use optical character recognition to read out information such as street signs or identify landmarks.' (MAA)

1 comment:

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