US Air Force evaluating Google Glass as a heads up display

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US Air Force evaluating Google Glass as a heads up display

From consumers to professionals like doctors to the military, Google Glass continues to break new ground.

A report on Wednesday revealed that the US Air Force's BATMAN (Battlefield Air Targeting Man-Aided kNowledge) research team is testing Google Glass to evaluate its role on the battlefield and is also considering developing apps to extend its use.

The positive attributes are "its low power, its low footprint, it sits totally above the eyes, and doesn't block images or hinder vision," said 2nd Lt. Anthony Eastin to VentureBeat. Eastin is a behavioural scientist on the BATMAN team testing the Google Glasses.

The concept - of bringing a video game-like Heads Up Display for important tactical information - is not a new one. However, since Glass sits above the line of sight, it doesn't obscure a pilot's vision, causing blind spots. And since it's an Android platform, the Air Force can develop applications for a range of uses, such as remotely pointing out targets, or communicating field movements to large groups in a visual manner.

Google is not working with the Air Force in their tests, but the US military as a whole is trying to modernise and rely on smart mobile devices. According to a report from last year, officials at the US Army's Mission Command Complex are also assessing Google Glass in a variety of pilot projects.

Since Google Glass knows where you're looking, it can provide highly detailed contextual information to soldiers in the battlefield, in much the same way it could be used to provide traffic directions to consumers. And much like the US Air Force, the US Army is also looking at the potential of tailoring Glass to their specific needs through specially developed apps.

This actually brings up an interest facet of the discussion around Google Glass. At present, many people are hard-pressed to come up with consumer needs for such a device. In professional and industrial fields though, these wearables seem to excel.

For example, at a surgery at an Indo-US conference in Jaipur headed by Dr. Ashish Sharma, a team of doctors led by US-based orthopaedic surgeon Selen G Parekh performed a foot surgery while using Google Glass, using the wearable to broadcast the surgery live on the Internet and share the information with other doctors. This enables doctors to show critical parts of a procedure to other experts without having to move in the middle of a procedure, reducing the chances of infection.

Other professions like the police, broadcasters, and architects have started to embrace the use of Google Glass already as well, as part of a program from Google to bring Glass to the workplace. The goal of the program is also to eventually improve Glass for consumers.

It's hard to argue with the effectiveness of Glass in professional roles, although it is also hard to imagine how military development might make it a more useful tool for consumers, down the line.

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