Thursday, March 6, 2014

Utah.gov Introduces Google Glass Capabilities to OnTime App

Posted By on March 6, 2014, 5:00 PM

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Upgrading your phone can be a hassle, but the feeling of a feather-light, shiny new gadget in your pocket can make you feel like a member of the 1 percent. And because the 1 percent can often be found waiting for the bus while wearing $1,500 glasses, The Utah Department of Technology is jumping on board early with a transit new app for the hands-free Google Glass.---

The OnTime app, released in October 2012, makes it possible for users to know when their bus or Trax train will come and view route information. Utah.gov recently announced that with the help of partner Utah Interactive—a company that designs, builds, and maintains the Utah.gov portal—it'll be expanding the app to work with the steadily developing, not-officially-released-to-the-average-Joe Google Glass .

The future, according to the State of Utah, is all about “wearables”—smartphone-like technology in glasses, watches and other fantastic future tech, and Utah.gov wants to stay on top of the ever-changing tech wave.

“If we wait, we’re behind the game and always playing catch-up,” says David Fletcher, the State of Utah's chief technology officer. “It gives us some experience with wearables so when it becomes more popular we’re not figuring it out still.”

Hands-free technology aims for ultimate practicality. Google Glass’s voice recognition makes taking a picture and asking for directions as simple as speaking a few words. Fletcher, who is one of only a handful in Utah to have access to a pair of Google Glass, says “they’re pretty easy to use” and that the technology will only get better, as the product is still in its developmental stage.

Fletcher compares this situation with a previous app that came out about four years ago for the iPhone called the Utah Professional License Lookup. Essentially, the app allows users to "look up any professional license,” says Fletcher. Shortly after the app was released, community members criticized Utah.gov for introducing it at a time when few people owned a smartphone. Today, people still use this app, and Fletcher points out that most people have a smartphone and he expects “with wearables, that will grow as well.”

For those interested in obtaining a pair of Google Glass, according to Google.com/glass, Google is “looking for bold, creative individuals who want to help shape the future of Glass.” Of course, they can’t guarantee an invitation to use Glass to everyone who applies. At this juncture, Fletcher is among a small pool of invitees—called “Explorers” in the Glass Explorer Program—who have the privilege of trying out this new technology at the price of $1,500 dollars, plus tax.

Smartwatches, also still in their infancy, are emerging on the scene. Samsung, Sony and Pebble have models out in the $200 price range. OnTime does not yet offer an application for smartwatches, but the Utah Interactive representative says it’s on the horizon.

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