YUMA, AZ - A very technologically savvy Yuma grandma has been chosen as one of the very few to test the Google Glass Explorer Edition as part of the company's Glass Explorer Program.
Trudy Schuett, a reporter for KAWC 88.9 FM, has been given permission from Google to purchase the small wearable computer, which shows information to the user through a head-mounted display (HMD). The device will cost about $1,500.
It is being developed by Google as part of the Project Glass research and development project.
"I am really excited -- really stoked," she told the Yuma Sun recently, adding "it is a great opportunity" to introduce Google to Yuma.
Schuett is very versatile when it comes to modern computing technology, especially for someone her age who was raised in suburban Detroit during a time when AM radio was king and TV was still relatively new.
"It all depends on how you grew up," she said. "When I was in high school I dated the computer geeks. There were computer geeks in the 60s."
Schuett, along with the other explorers who have been given permission to purchase the Google Glass Explorer Edition, must attend a Google Glass event in New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles to pick up the device. The date of the events has not yet been announced by Google.
Schuett has decided to attend the event in San Francisco since Google is headquartered in the Bay Area.
"I have to get to San Francisco," she said. "You may as well be at the heart."
Schuett is one of only three people in Arizona she knows of who will receive the new technology during the public testing phase.
Google Glass looks like a pair of glasses without lenses and displays information on the HMD using a hands-free, voice activated format. Google is currently working on models that can be used with prescription lenses, but those will not be ready for the Explorer Edition of Glass. However, it does have an interchangeable sunglasses accessory which twists on or off.
The Explorer Edition can interact with the Internet, and is equipped with GPS. The gadget receives data through Wi-Fi, or it can be tethered via Bluetooth to an Android device or iPhone to use 3G or 4G data.
Google Glass is designed to work with existing Google apps including Google Maps, and will also be able to display the weather. It also has the ability to take photos and record 720p HD video, and even broadcast those images live.
To be chosen to participate in the Glass Explorer Program, Schuett was required to post a message on Google+ or Twitter consisting of 50 words or less detailing what she would do with the gadget.
Schuett Tweeted she would use the device to "see if I could make it work for people with Alzheimer's, memory issues or other kinds of disabilities," she said. "I think they liked my project."
Google Glass may have the potential to remind Alzheimer's patients who they are talking to if they forget, Schuett noted.
"I have heard some scuttlebutt about the apps, and there is one that is kind of a facial recognition."
According to Schuett, in theory an Alzheimer's patient could take a picture of their family members, neighbors and friends, tag it with identifying information, and store it on their device. Then using the facial recognition app, all they would have to do is look at somebody and ask Google Glass who they are looking at. If the person has previously been recorded, the app would then provide a description to remind the patient who they are seeing.
The GPS enabled device "is actually a very good idea, particularly for Alzheimer's sufferers who may have the tendency to wander," Schuett added. "If they are out somewhere, maybe they can look at a street sign and say, `OK Glass where am I? How do I get home?"'
The device may also be beneficial to "people with arthritic fingers that can't make their fingers go where they want them to," Schuett said. "It is hands free -- you talk to it."
Schuett will seek volunteer subjects to test the device once she receives it.
"Because I am a member of the Governor's Advisory Council on Aging, and I chair the Regional Council on Aging (for Western Arizona), I have all sorts of resources and people I can ask to be involved," she said, adding she will detail her findings online to share with other interested parties.
"My intention is to establish a website with a blog or a wiki, or some way of communicating with a group of people that are interested, and I will be taking suggestions from people" including Alzheimer's doctors and caregivers and those with memory issues.
At $1,500, Schuett acknowledged the Explorer Edition of Google Glass is expensive. She is currently in the process of raising the funding necessary to purchase the device.
"That is why I've got my Indiegogo project," she said. "That
is a crowd-sourcing platform. It is where people with various projects who want funding for an invention raise the money. You put it online and you raise money from wherever."
She is also looking for corporate or business sponsorships, and said she will wear a uniform similar to NASCAR drivers covered with the logos of those who sponsor her during Google Glass events.