Google released a promotional website for its Project Glass last week, a device worn as glasses which integrates smartphone technology.
Among much social media fanfare, Google was quick to sell the device on its potential, inviting Twitter and Google+ users to submit their ideas for how they'd use Glass.
Google has developed Glass as a mainstream technology without its potential as an assistive technology in mind. The magic of the device lies in how third-party app developers will take it and apply it to the disability market.
Below are our ideas for how Glass could enhance the lives of people with disability in the future.
Glass is designed to work hands-free, enabling people with restricted mobility, such as arthritis or quadriplegia, to perform tasks across the web. Similar to Apple's Siri technology, Glass relies on voice commands, which makes it ideal for those who have difficulty using standard keypads.
While YouTube's auto-captions are proof of how far Google's voice recognition software has to go, Google is working on improving it. Once the software becomes more accurate, we could see Glass being used to convert speech-to-text, essentially making real life conversation captioned. A similar looking device, Sony's Entertainment Access Glasses, is currently being used in cinemas overseas.
Glass also displays information, superimposing text over what you see through the glasses. This could provide access to information normally communicated aurally, such as train delay announcements.
Glass is specifically geared towards sighted users but also holds access potential for people who are blind or vision impaired. 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 recognition to read out information such as street signs, or to identify landmarks.
As reported by technology site The Verge, Google are working towards making a 'fully polished' version of Glass available by the end of the year at a cost of less than US$1500.
The Glass promotional website features images and an (uncaptioned) video demonstrating how the device could be used for social interaction and multimedia.
This article is adapted from If we had Glass: the access potential for Google Glass, published on Media Access Australia. Access iQ™ is an initiative of Media Access Australia, Australia's only independent not-for-profit organisation who advocates for equal access to media and technology for users of all abilities.