Library Technology Specialist Roxann Riskin Beta Tests Google Glasses
We’ve all heard about Google Glasses – the wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display – but it’s still in beta-testing mode, and only several thousand people around the world have them. But there’s a good chance the Fairfield University community will see one, as Roxann Riskin, a technology support specialist in the DiMenna-Nyselius Library, is one of the first beta testers.
When Riskin first learned that a Google Glasses community was developing to discuss and share feedback about the invention, the self-proclaimed early-adopter and tech lover, joined and put in a request to be a beta tester. In January, she received an email from Google informing her that she was selected to become a Glass Explorer.
“I live and breathe technology, and have had many positive experiences with the Glasses so far,” Riskin said. One of her goals is to find new and innovative ways to promote educational experiences with the new wearable Glass technology.
While the Glasses don't look like normal glasses, they are not obtrusive. On the right arm is a processor with 16GB of storage, Bluetooth radio, video, and camera. Simple tapping and swiping guides you through a menu of options that includes email, text, internet, and taking photos or video. You can even decorate the Glasses to add your personal touch. Riskin’s Glasses have an American Flag pattern on the right arm designed by fellow Glass community members called GPop, and rhinestone bling on the bridge.
As a beta tester, Riskin tests the technology, makes suggestions on what could be altered, and explores all of the different ways the Glasses can be used.
Riskin mostly uses the wearable computer glasses on the weekend for a visual project on water at Connecticut beaches, and is writing the first Glass photography eBook to be published in November. Other beta users have shot first-person perspectives on hot air balloons, developed Apps for art museums, or virtual field trips to the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. It’s even been used in the medical field to show perspectives on what a patient or a doctor sees during a procedure.
The possibilities are endless, but aside from the uses that the Glasses have brought, one of the greatest benefits to Riskin has been connecting with others in the Google Glasses Community. “It’s brought me closer to people around the world, and the community is so open, innovative, and creative,” she said. The community is around 100,000 with 6,000-7,000 Glass users. Included in that community is Vincent Cerf, known as one of the “fathers of the Internet,” and Raymond Kurzweil, an American inventor and “futurist” and Google’s chief engineer.
Because the community is far-reaching, Riskin has collaborated with people, including Katy Kasmai, owner of UbiTech Co. (formerly GLASS NYC) from New York City, who hosts many of the North East Coast Glass community events; Virginia Poltrack, artist and Glass Developer, and Designer of Glass Word-of-the-Day App. Riskin is beta testing her newly launched Glass App called Flash Stacks with Chara Kelly, a Glass entrepreneur business woman who recently wrote the first song for Google Glasses while working in Egypt and also created the first Sign Language App for Glass.
Riskin is also collaborating with Alexander Hayes, an expert educator on emerging technology in an educational context from the University of Canberra in Australia, who interviewed and has attributed Riskin as an innovative educator; and Dr. Paul Szotek, chief acute care and trauma surgeon from Indianapolis, who has developed software for the Glasses to be worn during surgical procedures. Szotek invited Riskin to present with him at newly formed WATCH-Society Conference (WearAble TeCHnology in Healthcare Society) this past July at the WATCH Conference in Indianapolis. In addition, Dr. Ned Sahin, Harvard-educated neuroscientist and CEO from Brain Power, LLC in Boston, has met up with Riskin in NYC during a GOOGLE Glass Basecamp gathering in Manhattan. Sahin is involved with Glass in cognitive neuroscience and developing Apps for Autism spectrum disorders.
Additionally, Riskin participates in a weekly online "Hang Out on Air" (HOA) for Glass technology and wearables, where Glass community developers freely discuss Glass’s use and potential benefits in education. Also participating in that online group are Adam Winkle, a distinguished Apple and STEM educator from Florida and developer of a website called EduGlasses, and STEM Educator Courtney Pepe from New Jersey and Google Community member Annabelle Howard from Connecticut, who doesn’t own Glass but supports Riskin’s Glass in education, and is the international leader of the non-profit Reading without Borders. Howard has asked Riskin to promote the Read 20 reading campaign for Reading without Borders, while wearing the Glass wearable computer.
Riskin has brought the Glasses to Fairfield and let faculty, students, and staff try them out. She also presented Glass at the Center for Academic Excellence summer conference with Paige Francis, Fairfield's chief information officer and a big supporter of Riskin’s foray into the Glass community and the first CIO to be interviewed while wearing and discussing the Glass device. Other conversations have been had on campus about how to apply the Glasses to educational venues at Fairfield, Riskin said.
Like all new technology, some were suspicious when Google announced their Glass product, but Riskin has found it easy to talk to curious onlookers and let them try them out and ask questions. Others have worried that new technology separates a person from society, but Riskin said, “I’ve found just the opposite. I’ve met people all over the world ,and it’s opened my eyes to wonderful people doing dynamic things. Within the Glass and Google community at large, there are no boundaries or borders for reaching out to discuss the benefits of new technologies like Glass and wearable devices in education.”