Student test-drives Google Glass with MSUM’s support

BY MEREDITH WATHNE
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MSUM Freshman Jesus Garcia isn’t walking around campus wearing a typical pair of glasses. He was recently selected as a Google Glass explorer; one of 30,000 across the country.

The biochemistry and psychology major received the glasses at the start of the semester, waiting just over two months after submitting his initial application. He plans to use Google Glass to conduct a research project to see if they really do make his life better.

“I thought that the chances of (getting) them were very slim because at the time it was very hard to get a pair,” Garcia said.

After Garcia got the go-ahead from Google Glass to be a beta tester, he approached faculty members in the psychology department to see if there was a research project of mutual interest on which they could collaborate.

In order to support the student project, MSUM offered to cover the cost of the glasses, a $1,500 expense. Dean of the College of Science, Health and the Environment, Michelle Malott said the purchase of Google Glass is to support the use of new technology for academic applications and to benefit the information technology department because it gives workers the chance to learn about the new resource.

Garcia has an equipment use agreement with MSUM, so he can use the glasses for two years while conducting his research project, though they are technically property of the school.

Garcia will be working with Magdalene Chalikia and Elizabeth Nawrot in the psychology department to test various before and after psychology measures.

“Right now we are trying to find out as much as we can about the usability of the Glass before we can generate specific research questions,” Chalikia said. “(Garcia) has been keeping a log on a daily basis, regarding the number of hours he uses the Glass, how he uses it, in class or out of class and also how he uses his other devices.”

Garcia said the tests will also see if the new technology changes how he goes about his daily life.

“We are doing a lot of psychology measures that will show us the before and after, and we want to see if there was (sic) any changes in my personality,” Garcia said.

Although he hasn’t officially kicked-off the research project, he has big plans for the upcoming year with the glasses and said the project is moving at the right pace.

“I have only done measures and my journal for now,” Garcia said. “But we are planning to use them in a car simulator to see if it affects the way I drive.”

Though he still has a few tricks to learn, he’s grateful for the opportunity and appreciates the ease Google Glass brings to his studies.

“The biggest benefit is that they are hands free, and its voice command is very precise,” Garcia said. “You can search for anything.”

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