Business professor wields Google Glass

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Like the famous explorers Ferdinand Magellan, Neil Armstrong and Captain James Kirk before her, business professor Adriane Randolph is boldly going where no one has gone before, seeking to use Google's latest smartphone technology to help those with limited mobility operate computers and other devices with mind power.

This associate professor of information systems and director of Kennesaw State’s BrainLab, located in the Michael J. Coles College of Business, was one of 10,000 Americans selected as an “explorer” to test its latest smartphone technology, Google Glass.

While Randolph may not be a self-proclaimed techie, Google believes her cutting-edge research and her career as an information systems academic could benefit from Google Glass.

As a researcher and now a Google explorer, Randolph studies brain-computer interfaces – an alignment of computer technology with the human neurological system. Randolph applied to be a Google Glass explorer because she felt it could impact her research, even if she wasn’t sure exactly how. 

The BrainLab’s current research with brain-computer interfaces­ focuses on people with limited physical capabilities.  Randolph has already used the Glass with one of the lab’s clients, a 19-year old with cerebral palsy.  Randolph and her team are working to design and develop systems that enable individuals to control computers and other devices using neurophysiological input. She hopes that Google Glass will help her client by refining his field of vision.

“We know that binary commands exist using neural input, but it’s figuring out how to use that in Google Glass, and use it in a way that benefits our research,” she explained.

Google Glass is wearable technology, packing in smartphone features like camera, display, touchpad, microphone and battery into a lightweight, spectacle design. It’s worn like a pair of glasses, but the glass – the smartphone screen – rests out of the user’s line of vision. 

Using a combination of bluetooth and wi-fi technology, Randolph’s Google Glass links with her iPhone and gives her access to email, photos and the Internet.  Google Glass is best used with the Android platform, since the iOS platform restricts the use of text messaging and turn-by-turn directions. 

Her Glass is attracting some attention when she wears it around campus, but for now, she’s learning merely to adapt to its presence on her face. 

“At first, I was very aware that something was hovering just out of sight,” explained Randolph, who likes the hands-free capability. She picked up her Google Glass in July, and, like other explorers, is testing the technology before it is sold nationwide in 2014. 

Although Randolph also likes the “coolness factor” of having the Glass, she knows that with a nod of her head and a quick verbal command of “OK Glass,” her world is already changing.

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- Tiffany Capuano