Delaware News

Glass gives students glimpse of next-gen technology

Delaware Area Career Center junior's pitch to test $1,500 device pays off

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JOSHUA A. BICKEL/THISWEEKNEWS
Westerville North High School junior Chris Squires wears Google Glass during his digital media class Wednesday, March 12, at the Delaware Area Career Center. Squires wrote a grant proposal to Google to receive the wearable technology, which the career center purchased for $1,500.

Chris Squires has given his classmates a whole new way to look at the world.

The Delaware Area Career Center student recently applied for and received Google Glass, a computer system with capabilities similar to a smartphone that can be worn like a pair of glasses. Only 8,000 of the devices -- still in the testing phase -- have been released by Google.

Google Glass, whose 0.375-by-0.375-inch display screen sits above the right eye, can be used to search the Internet, text, take photos, shoot video and run other applications. The device can be controlled largely through voice commands, such as "take a picture" or "record a video."

Squires, a Westerville North High School junior and digital media student at the career center, said he didn't really expect to hear back when he made the initial application to Google about three months ago.

"It was kind of a shot-in-the-dark kind of thing -- like, I might as well try," he said.

After Google responded with an invite, Squires approached the career center's administration about funding the $1,500 purchase for use in the digital media program. Tammy Hall, the center's director of secondary operations, then helped the class secure grant funds to purchase the unit.

"It's just a testament to our administration that they're willing to invest in this and say, 'Here, have some extra money to stay a step ahead and keep this class current,' " career center spokeswoman Alicia Mowry said.

Digital media instructor Josh Gallagan said he wasn't too surprised Squires convinced Google and then the center's administration to support his request.

"I knew with his determination and the amount of work that he put into preparing the proposal that I thought it had a good shot," Gallagan said. "It wasn't just a kid saying, 'Hey, I want this.' He put some real thought and research into it."

The career center's two-year digital media program is open to students in the Big Walnut, Buckeye Valley, Delaware, Olentangy, Westerville and Worthington school districts. Students are instructed in animation, graphic design, video and Web design, among other topics, in their junior year before picking a focus in their senior year.

Students in Squires' digital media class will take turns wearing the device for a day at a time on school grounds and file a report on their experiences that can be sent to Google. The students are not allowed to take the device home or in a car.

Gallagan gave all of the credit for the class project to Squires. He said he pushed Squires to develop the curriculum for the class' Google Glass project and took ownership of the initiative.

Gallagan said his students were impressed by the device's translator.

"If you take the glasses and look at some words on the wall, it will automatically translate that," he said. "I think that's actually probably what the students have been most impressed with was the translating technology. Second is the games."

Squires said a skeet-shooting game, in which the Glass wearer can launch and fire at clay targets by voice command, is popular among his classmates.

He said he got a lot of questions such as "Can you explain that?" and "What are you wearing?" when he's worn the device around the school's campus. Other students also want to try the device for themselves.

"I feel like, maybe soon they'll be a known thing that people will recognize," he said.

Gallagan agreed and said he was glad his class would play a small role in getting the technology to a mainstream audience.

"To be able to be on the forefront of that and to give (Google) feedback so they can make it better and more practical is pretty awesome," he said.

Squires said he thinks updated versions of Google Glass will feature more applications and improved spell-check software.

While students continue to test Google Glass, Squires is working on video-editing projects in class. He said he and his classmates have even tried shooting and editing video using the device.

He said the Google Glass project is one example of how the digital media program can be so fun that it sometimes doesn't seem like school at all.

"To think that I can come up and do this and get credits for high school ... it's pretty crazy," he said.

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