If you frequent the internet and haven't heard of Google Glass, it's time to make sure you still have a pulse. The device has generated more coverage and debate than any piece of technology in recent memory, and that debate is about to spill over into education.
Google Glass is a tiny wearable computer equipped with a camera and microphone perched atop the frame of a pair of glasses. A few lucky souls have already managed to get their hands on samples – and a growing number of pictures spotting them "in the wild" appear on the internet – but now Google is launching a formal pilot program where an exclusive 8,000 will get a pair to do with as they please.
Dan Wettrick, a teacher at Franklin Community High School, will be one of those few. This morning he found out that his Twittered "application" which included a proposal to make Google Glass a featured part of his technology innovation course, was selected as one of the winners.
His students will not only use the augmented reality gadget but will also work on applications that will take advantage of its unique features.
Google Glass is seen as the new wave of technology known as "wearable computing." Google Inc., Apple Inc. and several other companies also are working on Internet-connected wristwatches, according to published reports that have cited anonymous people familiar with the projects.
The glasses won't be commercially available until the end of this year or 2014. Demonstrations of the technology since last year have generated heavy buzz in the general public as videos of select users appear online.
The buzz surrounding Glass is familiar to those who were around when Apple launched their iconic iPod music player and then the iPhone, a device that revolutionized the mobile communications industry. Those in charge of Google Glass hope that their piece of tech will have a similar societal impact, and "ideas that will change the world" ruled the criteria when choosing who would be accepted into the first beta test.
Other contest winners include a zookeeper who plans to use Google Glass to show what it's like to feed penguins and a person who will take the technology t Veteran Administration hospitals so soldiers who fought in World War II can see their memorials before they die.
Wettrick, who teaches broadcasting, described himself as "giddy" for being selected.
"I'm constantly, constantly looking for opportunities for my students," said Wettrick.
Students in the class create projects around video and technology and seek out partnerships with local and national companies and leaders. They've held video meetings with Anthony Salcito, a Microsoft vice president, and author Daniel Pink.
All that stands between Wettrick and the future is a plane ticket to one of the three cities where Glass is being distributed – New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco – and $1,500. He has already committed to covering both the ticket and the fee out of his own pocket.