USF student exploring the world through Google Glass - WFLA News Channel 8

USF student exploring the world through Google Glass

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Joe Evans isn't your typical anthropologist, and he's the first to admit it.

"Probably not! This is probably as far away as it gets," he said with a quick laugh.

Evans, an anthropology and archaeology PhD student and the University of South Florida, loves to document human history. But you won't find him digging up ancient ruins anytime soon. Instead, he prefers to use new technology to catalogue the past.

For the last several months, Evans has been a part of the Google Explorer program. Back in February, he wrote a 50 word entry to the #IfIhadGlass contest.

In his statement, he said, "If I had this, I would link students and people who wouldn't be able to experience these sights and places to these sights and places in real time."

"These places" are locations around the world. After Evans got chosen, he set to work right away. This semester, he's connecting USF students to archeologists in Mexico.

"He can show what's going on in class, and the students are all talking back," said Dr. Lori Collins, a professor in USF's Alliance for Integrated Spatial Technologies department.

Google Glass works like a computer that sits right in front of your eye. Evans said it took him a few days to get used to, and he still gets called "cyborg" by quite a few of his friends and colleagues. But it's easy to use. Evans said it's actually very intuitive.

"You lift your head up to activate it, and then I'd see that email, or I'd see that tweet, and then I can interact with it," he explained.

The side of the head set works as a touch screen. Evans can tweet, take pictures and record video with the swipe of a finger, or with voice commands.

Next week, he and team from USF will be putting the technology to work at Cape Canaveral. They'll be photographing and recording images of Friendship 7, the original launch pad of the Mercury program, and the place where John Glenn was first launched into space. The government is dismantling much of this piece of Space Coast history.

But Evans sees yet another use for this new technology. It's something he first noticed while walking around campus.

"I'll see hundreds looking down, not really paying attention to the traffic around them, or to each other," he said.

He believes smart phone technology cuts people off from one another, because they're too busy looking at their phone to connect with other people. Glass changes all that.

"The purpose is to transition away from a look-down society," Evans said.

Google Glass allows the user to look up and around, taking in the sights and people around you.

USF is still working out the details of incorporating the technology into the classroom.

"In a sense, we're sort of like an academic beta tester," said Dr. Collins. "We're looking what are the impacts on students, both good and bad."

But so far, Evans  and Collins agree the feedback has been positive.

"It added a lot of engagement to the classroom, just to get kids interested and participating a little bit more," Collins said.

Evans plans on continuing to use Google Glass and report his findings back to Google until the product is ready to hit store shelves, whenever that may be.
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