Google Glass may have been pulled from the consumer marketplace, but one team of researchers is still trying to improve it for workplace applications.
Jibo He and Barbara Chaparro of Wichita State University in Kansas have developed an optical lens that dramatically expands the field of view for the camera on Glass.
The attachment, called Google Lens, can boost the camera view from 54.8 degrees horizontally and 42.5 degrees vertically to 109.8 degrees and 57.8 degrees, respectively, according to the researchers.
"The current Google Glass has a limited field of view, which reduces its applications in professional settings," He said via email.
Google Lens is a simple optical attachment that clips onto the arm of Glass over the camera. It can be fitted with interchangeable lenses including wide-angle lenses.
Apps such as Livestream can turn Glass into a live broadcasting device from a user's point of view. He and collaborators developed their own app called uSee that's designed for mobile usability research and two-way communication. It allows remote observers to send text messages that display on the Glass monitor or a linked smartwatch. Users, meanwhile, can tap on the Glass touchpad to mark important events.
By bringing more into the view of the Glass camera, Google Lens could also open up possibilities for workplace applications, according to He. Medical trainees, for instance, could see more when watching the perspective of an instructor via the wearable, and student pilots could look through Glass for an instructor's view of the cockpit.
Better applications could mean a lot for Glass, which saw the closure of its consumer-oriented Explorer program last month when the device "graduated" from the Google X lab. But the search giant has continued to promote its Glass at Work program, noting that startup Augmedix recently raised US$16 million to make Glass a time-saving device for doctors through an automated note-taking app.
Other medical possibilities for Glass include a trial at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston that involves using the device to provide mothers with a view of babies being treated in the newborn intensive care unit.
Tim Hornyak covers Japan and emerging technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Tim on Twitter at @robotopia.
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