As a quick refresh for those of you who are new to this, Google Glass is Google’s entry into the wearable computing arena. It features an optical display over the right eye, as well as a camera, microphone, speaker and touchpad.
Simple commands such as “Ok Glass, take a picture” activate the camera hands-free, which is a part of Google’s emphasis on hands-free interaction. Users can also do other things like use it to translate spoken voice into text, Google things, send messages or even livestream recording video.
This is wonderful and all, but some of you may be asking where the beef is when it comes to immediate, tangible benefits, especially for journalism. There are several, and one that readily stands out is third party apps.
The New York Times and CNN already have basic news apps which allow you to view headlines, photos and videos; summaries can also be read to you of each article.
The problem, however, exists in the monetization element. This usage reeks of the same basic implementations that news organizations used during the boom of the Internet– putting content up for free to get more eyeballs for advertisers who want to advertise on your newspaper/website/app. Therefore, it seems prudent to pursue other avenues for how this could change journalism.
The first and most readily apparent is the size and form factor of the mobile device. For journalists, this is a small frame that allows one to shoot live video from a first-person perspective and stream it directly to the Internet as it happens. One may recall Al Franken’s Saturday Night Live skit of the ’80s, as a “One-Man Mobile Unit Reporter” who was the first to go all-electronic with a giant satellite dish strapped to his head and an “excruciating” body harness attached to his personal camera equipment. Now replace all of that with a single glasses frame and an internet connection.
Tim Pool is a social media journalist hired by Vice, specifically to travel to Turkey and cover the political turbulence going on there. He was able to utilize Glass to cover and livestream events, as well as translate when purchasing gas masks.
“When there’s a wall of police firing plastic bullets at you, and you’re running through a wall of tear-gas, having your hands free to cover your face, while saying ‘OK Glass, record a video’, makes that recording process a lot… easier,” he explains.
This can often represent life or death for journalists, which brings in another point in the form of the inconspicuous appearance of Glass. A journalist wearing Glass may be less likely to draw the ire of government forces or angry protesters.
With more to cover on Glass and journalism, look forward to pt. 2 of this 2-part series.