Monday, March 31, 2014

Point Park University's 1st Virtual Fieldtrip Using Google Glass

If you read my last post, you know that last week I went to Carnegie Mellon University to conduct a virtual field trip using Google Glass for students in the School of Business at Point Park University.

Prior to the trip, I had concerns about whether or not Glass would actually work as intended.  One of the glitches Glass has yet to overcome is its often inability to work around interference.  When Glass is surrounded by other technology such as computers, other WIFI networks, phones, etc., it runs the risk of not working properly.  Being that CMU is one of the most technologically rich universities in the world, I was a little worried that Glass would basically explode.  Fortunately for us, it did not!

I walked around the whole campus wearing Glass, giving the Point Park University students across town a virtual campus tour of CMU via a Google Hangout.  What sets Glass apart from a computer or a smartphone when using Google Hangouts is that the perspective changes.  Rather than seeing what the computer or smartphone camera would see, which is usually just a person's face, Glass projects what the wearer is seeing.  This first-person perspective gives the person on the other end of the Google Hangout the feeling that they are actually there!

We ended the virtual campus tour in the Office of Admissions for Heinz College, with an interview of the Director of Admissions who was able to talk about the new partnership between CMU and PPU.  The partnership awards Point Park University students accepted into graduate school at Carnegie Mellon's Heinz College a scholarship of $6,000 per semester to help pay for their studies.  Check out CMU's website for more information on this partnership.

Though the trip was successful in its own right, the real success lies in the possibilities for the future; Glass can now be used for virtual field trips all over the city of Pittsburgh and even for virtual fieldtrips all over the world! We plan to use Glass to make Point Park University's School of Business even more hands on than it already is by literally bringing our students into the field they are studying.  Follow me as I continue to post about Glass and its use in higher education and go where no university has gone before!

Thanks for reading.
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Google Glass in Action at Point Park University

This week and the weeks leading up to it have been both an exciting and a scary time. I have spent a great deal of energy preparing for a big event that will happen tomorrow, the day when I finally have the opportunity to show off Google Glass to Point Park University.  In order to obtain this new technology, I recommended Point Park spend over $1,500 to purchase the device and own this cutting edge technology; tomorrow will tell us if my recommendation paid off. 

Let me go into more detail about what happens tomorrow: first, I will arrive to work at Point Park University with only a few hours to test Google Glass. Glass will be tested with the new phone that will be paired to it via bluetooth, a Galaxy S4.  I did not get a chance to test Glass last week with the S4, as I was busy going through two other phones and two different carriers that just didn't work right with the device so I'm crossing my fingers that this third time is a charm.  Assuming the test works, I will successfully use Glass to test a Google Hangout with an empty classroom at Point Park.  Then, in the afternoon, I will head across town to Carnegie Mellon University.  There I will do a virtual tour of the campus again through a Google Hangout.  I will be "hanging out" with that classroom back at Point Park, only this time it will be full of Career Prep students in the Sports, Arts and Entertainment Management Department, a major in Point Park's School of Business.  The tour will conclude in the Office of Graduate Admissions for Heinz College, where the Director will speak to these students about graduate school and the new partnership between Point Park and Carnegie Mellon.

If the technology works the way that it should, this will be one of the most unique ways Point Park has ever used new technology.  We will be ahead of the curve, doing something that very few, if any, are doing in the world of higher education.  We will not only have a cutting edge technology, we will also have a cutting edge learning environment for our students with endless possibilities for the future.  For example, we will be able to have guest speakers from some of the most impressive positions and organizations in their respective industries.  We will be able to do virtual tours of facilities that would otherwise be off-limits or outside of our resources.  We will be able to connect with students via social media with literally a blink of the eye (Glass can take pictures merely by winking and then share the picture with the world wide web through a quick tap or a simple voice command).

Still, there's a good chance that something will go wrong with this new technology.  If you've read any of my previous posts, you know that I believe Glass is not yet perfect and it's a long way from being ready to hit the shelves.  So, tomorrow's failure or success is really anyone's guess but I'm crossing my fingers everything goes the way both Google and I would want it to.  Check back for updates, I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for reading.
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Friday, March 14, 2014

Google Glass Frustrations

Google Glass is an amazing device and a great start to a totally new computing platform.  That being said, the device really has a long way to go before it is ready for consumers.

One of my greatest frustrations with Glass is that it does not have its own internet capabilities.  Instead, Glass must run off the data of a personal hotspot (i.e. it must sync to your smartphone and pull the data via bluetooth tethering) or it must be connected to wifi.

Not only must Glass be connected to wifi however, it must be connected to UNPROTECTED wifi.  This means that it can only work with wifi that does not require a passcode, thus the majority of wifi networks are off limits!

I had several issues setting up my iPhone 4S to Glass and the Googlers I spoke to on the phone were simply not versed in iPhone so they were unable to help me.  I had to struggle through it, try many combinations, to finally find the answers by shear coincidence; for the average consumer, struggling to set up the device might mean they return it to the store before even testing it out.

After struggling through setup with my iPhone, I did eventually get it set up only to realize that the MyGlass app for iOS would not rotate the screen, so when projected onto a screen, the entirety of what I was seeing on Glass was flipped on its side.

Thinking I might have been better off with Android all along, I was able to get an Android work phone to test out with Glass.  Little did I realize, however, that the Spring service I would have with Android would put me in "roaming" mode in the room I need to do presentations in, and Glass apparently does not work while roaming.

Battery life is probably the worst of my frustrations, coupled with the fact that after using Glass for an hour with normal use, the device gets very hot.  An hour later, the device will be dead.  So, two hours with Glass and it's useless.  Obviously, that will have to be fixed before Glass hits the shelves.

As a Glass Explorer, I've had to constantly remind myself that I am not a consumer, I am a beta-tester.  This is something that is harder to do than it seems though. I haven't had experience with beta-testing, but I have had plenty of experience as a consumer.  If you're like me, you've bought products for years and determined subconsciously the value of the product.  Was it worth what I spent?  Am I satisfied with the product?  Does it meet or exceed my expectations?  If the answer was "no" to any of those questions, in all likelihood I returned the product.  Being a Glass Explorer on the other hand, I cannot simply return the product; instead, I am tasked with consciously determining where Glass falls short and how it excels and then returning that information to Google in the hopes that it makes the product better and closer to consumer readiness.

Like I said before, Glass is not ready to hit the shelves.  The general public would be extremely unsatisfied with the many glitches and the entire project would be a bust.  
If Google is as smart as I know they are, they will wait.
They will be patient, and then this product really will change the world.  If they do not, their brand will take a hit and this product will be nothing but a toy, and worst, it will be just a fad that no one remembers.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Google Glass Demos For Mac/iPhone Users

One of the things I plan to do with Glass is to demonstrate the new device for students, faculty, and staff at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. Though this has always been the plan, I didn't know what I would have to do to make that a reality, so I had to start completely from scratch.  If you are planning to demo the device yourself, take a look at what I did, and hopefully you will also find it useful:

My first step was go to the MyGlass app for iOS/iPhone, which I had to download initially to setup Glass.  The app comes with a convenient "Screencast" tool, allowing whoever holds the iPhone (the same thing applies for Android users) a chance to see exactly what the person using Glass sees on their Glass device.  This has been a great tool for giving demos to one or two people, but obviously wouldn't work for a large group due to the small screen.  The Screencast tool has also helped allow others to try out the device, as it enables me to see what they can see, and help them navigate on the device.

I tried a couple things using the Screencast tool on MyGlass app for IOS.  First, I scoured the App Store for a good app to display what I had on my iPhone screen, in this case the MyGlass app, on a desktop PC or a Mac wirelessly (without having to have the USB cable that comes with Glass plugged in).  I thought if I could display to a computer, I could then connect the computer via VGA cable to our projector.  Unfortunately, no such app really exists for iPhone to Mac or PC, and if it does, I couldn't find it.  After calling Apple, they wouldn't recommend any of the reflector or mirroring apps out there, so I decided to go a different route. 

Next, I tried using a 30-Pin to VGA Adapter from the Apple Store to display my iPhone and the MyGlass app onto a projector via VGA cable.  I plugged the adapter into my iPhone 4S, and into the projector through the VGA cable; it auto-recognized and got so close to displaying what I could see on Glass!  Unfortunately, the MyGlass app is only able to display on iPhone horizontally and does not rotate when you rotate the phone.  This meant that the MyGlass app displayed to the projector, but on its side.  Since projector was only able to flip vertically, I still had no effective way of displaying what I was seeing on Glass to a large group because I couldn't exactly ask the audience to just tilt their heads at a 90 degree angle...  Then, for a fleeting moment I thought about using our portable projector and just put it on its side, hoping the video quality wouldn't be completely distorted or the projector wouldn't explode, but I decided that would be a last resort.

Last but not least, I plugged the device directly into my Macbook and decided I could live with the chord running from my head to the computer while I gave the demo.  Unfortunately for me, the device did not auto-recognize to display what I was seeing in Glass so I had to go a little bit further and install Android Debug Bridge, turn Glass onto debug mode, and then download and run Droid@Screen, a screen mirroring tool. If you're not a software developer, it's a little bit of a tricky process but it's definitely doable.  For detailed instructions on how to go about setting up ADB to work with the Droid@Screen and display Glass to your computer, check out this great post.

After all of that, I was up and running directly from Glass to my Mac, mirroring Glass' "cards," Google's name for each display screen.  They look like this: 

The next step was to head back to the Apple store for a new VGA adapter, this time a Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter which allows a VGA cable to work for MacBooks (Pro and Air) from 2011 onward, as the adapter uses the Thunderbolt input.

Again, the projector auto-recognized my Mac and this time it displayed perfectly, just as it did on my computer screen. 

Thanks for reading and good luck.

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