A few months have passed since digital strategist Chris Cullmann provided a detailed look into how Google Glass might affect the life science product and service provider community. Glass still isn't available to the general public, but businesses and individuals have been revving up solutions for a Glass-filled world. Let's see what the app developers have been up to and how this might impact us 2 years down the road.
Iwan Uswak has assembled what appears to be the first (but not likely last) directory of apps for Glass. Though not exhaustive, it provides a snapshot of the myriad categories of needs being considered and creative approaches to their solutions. JewGlass provides timely reminders of an approaching sabbath, while also providing a list of nearby kosher restaurants. Your customers might benefit from a comparable app that discretely notifies a forgetful researcher attending a seminar that his staining reaction was nearly complete and that the time to add the next reagent was drawing near. After rushing back to the lab, the beleaguered researcher could then use Glass with a barcode scanning app comparable to Crystal Shopper to verify the expiration date on the reagent vial that he pulled from the refrigerator.
Field Trip provides information about images captured by the Glass camera. So while driving through the last covered bridge in New Jersey in the rolling hills of Sergeantsville (yes, New Jersey does have rolling hills), Field Trip would tell you when the bridge was built and why and where you could stop for lunch. Imagine such an app being used while a researcher looks over the mass spec in your convention booth and then decides to download the application note that appeared in her Glass field of view. A quick command of "Glass, download application note" stores the file on her smartphone while simultaneously registering the download on your website.
Watching all this take place in your booth was none other than the research director from your high performance chromatography group. Or was she? Though it appeared she was looking at the researcher who downloaded the application note, the research director was actually using YourShow to review a PowerPoint presentation to demonstrate new software that enhances resolution on your mass spec. You then remember that this was the same app that the sales training manager used during the role-play exercise at the national sales meeting to remind you of tactics for dealing with antagonistic customers.
Just as website creation software has evolved from bare bones programming tools for hardcore practitioners to today's click-and-publish solutions for use by the masses, there's reason to believe that content development for Glass might follow a similar path. SimpleWing promotes itself as "The quick and simple way to create an app for Google Glass" and "The simple way to make your content available on Google Glass."
Quick and simple is often code for limited or trade-offs, but if you have Glass, you can test out dozens of apps created with SimpleWing, including a newsfeed that searches science publications for articles that discuss the possible role of neuroinflammation in Alzheimer's disease.
True. But with the upcoming release of the Glass version 2, the 10,000 Explorers currently wearing Glass version 1 get to invite 3 other people to purchase Glass ($1,500). But this article isn't about how to get your own Glass; it's about getting ready for Glass-like functionality—preparing for a less intrusive, potentially better informed experience.
But whether the device sits on the bridge of your nose, your wrist, or somewhere sight unseen, the focus remains on what you can accomplish and what you will have to create to accomplish it.
Alan Gerstein, SAMPS Digital Editorial Director, is an interactive content developer experienced at blending the oft-conflicting needs of users, clients, and search engines. Along the way he has developed strategies and information solutions to better support the training and education needs of the life science research community. He also had the good fortune to lead the efforts of nearly two-dozen researchers to create The Molecular Biology Problem Solver.