Podcast Episode 6 - Google Glass

the IAP Your Accessibility Podcast

This week on the IAP, we discuss an article highlighting the accessibility benefits of Google Glass.

Show Notes & Links


Announcer: This is the IAP - Interactive Accessibility Podcast with Mike Guill and Mark Miller. Introducing Mike Guill and Mark Miller.

Mark Miller: Hi, I’m Mark Miller and this is Accessibility Specialist Mike Guill, and this is your Accessibility Podcast. Hey Mike, how are you doing?

Mike Guill: Great, Mark. How are you doing this week?

Mark: Good, excellent. Umm, so you sent me another cool article. This is another one that landed on Mashable here. Uh, this woman, Tammie Van Sant, uh, is paralyzed from the waist down, not from the waist down, from the chest down, right?

Mike: Right.

Mark: which is, you know, incredibly difficult, uh, car accident when she was young, uh, caused this paralyzation, and she kinda lived her whole life since then with very limited mobility and, uh, this is really a cool article on Google Glass and how it’s helped Tammie become sort of mobile, not mobile but independent again. Um, so talk to me a little about this because you’re the one that found this, and you got some good thoughts on it. Um, talk to me a little about it and think about it. I get that it sort of flies in the face a little bit of the criticism that we heard about this. Would you agree with it?

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. The, um, the point we get from this is right off the bat when Google Glass was announced it came out, the, the criticism was from, from all angles, and people in our industry saw through all that and saw a lot of potential for helping people who had limited, umm, senses, whether vision or mobility impairments or, or hearing or whatever—the possibilities for a device to add extra, umm, inputs from your world, from what’s around you, is a big thing. You know, honestly, it’s wearing a computer around that gives you input based on either, um, passive things about what’s around you or active things where you ask it questions and have it answer, or do something, do a task,

Mark: Right.

Mike: So Google Glass, specifically, the criticisms were how, you know, this is the, .you know, this is gonna be such a nerdy thing for people to wear around. It’s gonna be annoying. You’re standing there talking to someone at a party and they got on a Google Glass helmet and they look like an idiot, right?

Mark: (chuckles)

Mike: But, but the fact that they’re sitting there wearing this device on their head and possibly checking their Facebook page while they’re pretending to talk with you is kinda annoying, oh which is a valid concern and it’s the same reason that I kinda, uh, I pass judgment silently on those who walk around with the Bluetooth headsets on their ears,

Mark: Right.

Mike: You know, um

Mark: This is different than the Bluetooth thing and I almost, I tell you what, this, I got kind of, um, a pet peeve here when it comes to this kind of stuff, um, because I agree, I agree, you know, I’ve heard all that criticism that you’re talking about. But it seems to me that anytime someone comes forward with a new technology that’s quite not worked out yet, but they’re throwing out there for the masses for them to consume like, which I think exactly where Google Glass is right now, you get all this crazy, crazy criticism. And , and the two things that drive me nuts about this are (1) this, this is pioneering technology; it’s unprecedented. So yeah, it’s not perfect, like who’s surprised about that? Um, so I kinda get, you know, I don’t like that, that, I like those things to be pointed out, but I don’t like them to be critical. And secondly, the, the social impact , that, you know, if you think about cell phones, When we first had cell phones, when people first start receiving phone calls in a restaurant while dining with their family, we had to kind of work out the, social, you know, how we, how we handle these things socially, what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable. And, um, you know, sitting on your cell phone, having a really loud conversation in a quiet dining room, uh, of your local restaurant is not cool. It used to be that, that boisterous sales guy would do that, you know, knowing everybody was looking at him and, and—in his mind anyways—

Mike: (laughing)

Mark: thinking he was cool because he had a cell phone (most people didn’t have one in their pocket like he did) and listen to him talk. So I think we’re gonna hit those sort of bumps in the road socially. We’re gonna hit those bumps in the road with the technology not being worked out to where eventually we’ll end up. But my gosh! Look at the potential that’s here.

Mike: Yeah, it’s a huge potential.

Mark: It’s crazy. It’s absolutely crazy. And if we look at this case of Tammie Van Sant, she’s, I mean she’s experiencing the world in a way, experiencing independence in a way that she hasn’t been able to for years. It’s just, it’s revolutionary for her.

Mike: Well, one of the quotes in the article is that she says for eighteen years she wasn’t able to take pictures whenever she wanted,

Mark: Hmhm

Mike: And she can’t even, she says ‘I can’t even describe how amazing that is. I can answer the phone and actually hear the person on the other end, and they can hear me. When I get a text, I can read what the text says on the little prism and answer it. So,

Mark: You and I take that for granted, but can you imagine if you couldn’t that stuff, you know?

Mike: Oh, absolutely, yeah.

Mark: So, yeah, and that’s just where, you know, the same, the same thing here cwith, later on in the article they talk about this, this Alex guy that had the same impairment really. He was paralyzed from the chest down. And if you think about that as an impairment, it’s like the, you know, the part of you that wants to do stuff, wants to be independent, uh, is still out there reasoning, wants to be social, is perfectly functioning, but that whole thing that we drive around in our, our everyday lives—our body—is not functioning. So what, what a frustrating circumstance, right? So this Alex woman has the same, the article goes on to talk about the same thing happening to her and, uh, but more recently, right? So she’s, she’s

Mike: Yeah, in her case, she’s paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident about a year ago.

Mark: About a year ago, right.

Mike: Embedded in the article here is a YouTube video that I, We’ll put this in Show Notes because I do want people to see it. It looks like it was published, it was produced by Google as a promotional video for Glass, which is a good one. Now, in her case, she can only imagine that, um, if you’re born with, um, limits of mobility or, umm, visual disability or something like that, that’s what you grow up with, that’s what you come to know.

Mark: Right.

Mike: If you, if you, if you have a disability bestowed on you somehow at, in your adulthood, it cha, .it’s different.

Mark: Well, Implied in this article is you, you think about all you can’t do, but her social world collapsed around her as well.

Mike: Yeah, and her ability,

Mark: And her ability to socialize was stumped, you know.

Mike: Yeah, in the article she thought a normal social life would be out of her reach, and I wanted to, wanted to key in on that because this is someone who is a 26-year-old, you know, woman who has not grown up with any kind of apparent disability. So right off the bat she’s thinking of what’s, things in terms of what’s normal,

Mark: Right.

Mike: Right? And now you and I discussed this all the time about, you know, what normal things are or how, it’s not, it’s not, disabilities aren’t certainly admirable to happen periodically to people. They happen naturally, that sort of thing. But people without one don’t think of it hitting so close to home until something happens to them.

Mark: Right, right.

Mike: So, uh, you know, what’s normal is the rhetorical question we keep running into. And I thought it was interesting that became a part of this article, and I wanted to point that out. This one, this girl says she ran into problems with the device because in a crowded place, for example, it doesn’t pick up her voice very well. Um, but she counters that by saying it’s been great for connecting with people.

Mark: I’ll say put ‘em on her face, put ‘em on my face. Let’s get them out there and sort of flush out these issues because Google Glass 2.0 is gonna address some of them, you know.

Mike: Well, there’s huge implications going forward. There’s some, umm, research being done at several universities. I read in here that, um, Georgia Tech, There’s a thing going on at Georgia Tech. There’s a thing going on at Carnegie Mellon, University of Rochester, Umm, there are efforts to make Google Glass help the, help the blind, um, and, um, one of the cool I think about going forward is facial recognition technology, uh, built into devices like this. If you can imagine someone who’s blind walking into a crowded room that’s very noisy. You know, blind folks rely on their, on their hearing to key into who’s in a room or where, you know, where things are positioned, where people are positioned,

Mark: Right.

Mike : And then, uh, of course facial recognition would allow them to say, you know, Google Glass could say ‘Hey your friend so-and-so is thirty feet ahead at 11:00’, you know, whatever it is—some sort of input to say, you know, extra information about this place that would be notoriously difficult to get around to find people who you know. So,

Mark: Well, you know, and I think that for me, I’d put these on. I would run around with them. I would try figure things out. And I think just sort of like pulling a cell phone out of your pocket or having a quick conversation in public now on a cell phone is almost goes unnoticed because now it’s such an integrated part of our society. I think that, umm, ultimately that’s where something like Google Glass would end up, especially if we see it have these really, really positive effects, and it’s just like you and I talk about all the time, Mike, is anything that’s good, uh, ,you end up developing for the sake of accessibility for a disabled person ultimately ends up benefitting us all. You know, the big automatically opening doors in a grocery store, the ramps on a sidewalk that we easily slip our strollers up that the wheelchair needed—you know, those kinds of things. And I think Google Glass is right there. I think there will be great benefits for all of us but certainly life-changing benefits for people with disabilities.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely.

Mark: All right. Well, good subject. Thanks for sending the Mashable article over. I love seeing stuff like this and, and it does drive me a little nuts to see the criticism come out when somebody is trying something new. So I love seeing articles like this when it’s really highlighting some of the positive things. So,

Mike: Well, there’s no shortage of criticism in the comments. Nowadays you can’t the comments thread made on CNN without getting into it.

Mark: Well, that’s what people do, you know?

Mike: Yeah, but it is really nice to see all the stuff on media sharing on the article. If you have an article on a mainstream site like Mashable—I said it before-- it’s great,

Mark: It’s great,

Mike: Huge number of shares, a huge number of, you know, . posts on Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn ,

Mark: Kudos to Mashable for including this kind of stuff. All right, well thanks, Mike. This is Mark Miller.

Mike: And Mike Guill

Mark: Reminding you too keep it accessible.

Announcer: The IAP - Interactive Accessibility Podcast brought to you by Interactive Accessibility, the accessibility experts. You can find their Access Matters Blog at Interactiveaccessibility.com/blog


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