NY EMT tests out Google Glass as EMS training tool

Device could be used to display information to rescuers, not unlike the technology used by fighter pilots to project data onto windshields


Times Union

NEW YORK — Diana de Avila got white-glove treatment last week at a secretive, unmarked office in the Chelsea Market building in lower Manhattan. After a warm welcome and a glass of champagne, de Avila was fitted with the newest technology Google has to offer.

Some 8,000 Americans, including at least four Capital Region residents, won the right to buy — for $1,500 — and test Google Glass, the new wearable device from the Internet giant, before it is put on the market for consumers. They were selected through a Twitter contest that asked people to tell in 140 or fewer characters what they would do with the hands-free mobile technology packaged in a pair of glasses capable of searching the web, texting, taking pictures and videos and more when paired with a smart phone.

De Avila, who is a volunteer EMT in Malta, submitted this winning answer in February: "#ifihadglass I would review functionality using a human factors approach and report my findings. Reviewing is what I do!"

Despite the steep price, de Avila, a self-described "gadget geek" and reviewer on Amazon.com, said she "wasn't going to miss that opportunity. No way."

"I enjoy testing stuff out," she said Wednesday. Her mission was to assess the usability of Google Glass, "putting it through its paces and providing them (Google) with that information."

Within eight hours of heading home from the company's East Coast headquarters with the device, her shale-colored Google Glass crashed during one of its regular software updates. On Wednesday, a new device arrived — without champagne, but delivered in elegant packaging.

In addition to helping Google "pick out the bugs," de Avila is exploring the device's feasibility as a "heads-up display" for her EMT crew after receiving permission to try out the futuristic gadget with emergency response students. She said it could be used as a training tool that displays information and instruction to rescuers, not unlike the technology originally used by fighter pilots to project data onto windshields. The device would allow students to get information without taking their eyes off a person in need of assistance.

De Avila is also testing the Recon Jet — another glasses-mounted device made by Recon Instruments and scheduled for public release in December with a $599 price tag.

While she said she got no reaction when she wore her Google product in public, the test is certainly making a splash. Pictures of the testers have exploded on the Internet, as people document the peculiar new techno-fashion. On her blog, where she's documenting her experiences with Google Glass, de Avila told of her attempts to avoid being distracted by the device and forgetting basic manners.

Aray Montalvan, another tester, or "Google Explorer," in the area, plans to use her glasses to document behind-the-scenes work at local arts administrations. She said her week with Google Glass was "like a kid in a candy store or a kid on Christmas every day."

Alex Chaucer of Saratoga Springs tweeted his invitation to test, after saying he'd use Google Glass to "create a skill/barter app where people could indicate skills/goods they have/need for trade," but also "record those special moments in life without having to hold up a stupid device and ruin the moment."

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