Google Glass shows promise as a tool for improving the lives of people with Parkinson's disease, but recent testing conducted through Newcastle University in the UK underscores the extent to which social hurdles complicate wearable technology's emergence from the lab. Although Glass isn't yet available outside the US -- where it's only available through Google's Glass Explorer program -- researchers from Newcastle University and the University of Sussex have been testing Glass with Parkinson's patients using five donated devices.
The researchers plan to present their findings later this month at CHI 2014, an ACM conference on human-computer interaction. The paper describing these findings, "Exploring the Acceptability of Google Glass as an Everyday Assistive Device for People With Parkinson's," explains how Glass was used by five Parkinson's patients between the ages of 46 and 70 and their caregivers. The research shows that Glass has both benefits and shortcomings.
"Glass is such new technology we are still learning how it might be used, but the beauty of this research project is we are designing the apps and systems for Glass in collaboration with the users so the resulting applications should exactly meet their needs," said John Vines, a senior research associate at Newcastle University's computer science department and a co-author of the paper, in a statement. "What was really encouraging from this early study was how well our volunteers took to the wearable technology and the fact that they could see the potential in it."
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— Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996.