Could Google Glass be Coming to a Lecture Hall Near You?

When your parents were born, a computer could take up an entire room. Today's version fits in the palm of your hand. What's next? Google Glass, a hands-free computer that students at Northeastern University recently had a chance to test out.

Twenty years ago, most elementary school classrooms had one or two computers for students to share (mostly to play Oregon Trail). Ten years ago, many, if not most, high school and college students owned a laptop. Today, students of all ages have access to iPads and other tablets to aid in the learning process. Could Google Glass be next up in education’s technological evolution?

In case you haven’t heard of it, Google Glass is essentially a computer that you wear on your face like a pair of glasses, and last semester, Northeastern University became the first school to offer a course about this new technology. Called Health Innovation with Google Glass, the class was taught by associate professors Stephen Intille and Rupal Patel, who tasked a couple dozen students with developing ideas that would demonstrate how Google Glass could be used to improve personal health care. The class was divided into two groups, and each group had its own Google Glass to wear and experiment with.

Professor Intille explained the idea behind the class in an interview with The Huntington News, Northeastern’s student newspaper.

“I thought it’d be an interesting course if we could design health technology to help people using those devices as a way to get thinking about how we might change the health care system for the better, using technology,” said Intille.

Intille and Patel believe that the hands-free nature of Google Glass, which can be controlled with a small touch pad or by using voice commands, could open up many possibilities for personal health care applications.

So how did the class go? News@Northeastern reported that the students’ app projects included one focused on loneliness in older adults, one aimed at streamlining hospitals’ use of electronic checklists, one that would help people with speech disorders speak more clearly, and two that were designed to help with the special needs of people with autism. The students were able to continue working on their apps this semester in a follow-up course called Personal Health Interface Evaluation and Deployment.

Google Glass is not yet available to the public (Northeastern received theirs from an anonymous donor), so it won’t be infiltrating college classrooms just yet. But who knows? Maybe by your senior year you’ll be trading in your Ray-Bans so you can see the world like this:

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