Here’s another reason to covet Google Glass: It can serve as your personal tour guide.
One of the early “Glassware apps” to arrive on the search giant’s high-tech eyewear, Field Trip becomes available today to the 10,000 or so Google Glass Explorers. Those early adopters paid $1,500 to get the first pairs; final consumer models are likely in 2014.
Out for about a year as a free Android mobile app â€” and on Apple iOS devices for about six months â€” Field Trip delivers location-based information about neighborhoods, cities and countries based on your interests. However, the app’s full potential is unleashed on Glass, says John Hanke, vice president of Niantic Labs, which is a startup firm within Google.
Viewing information through Glass, he says, “is less distracting because it keeps your eyes free, which is the whole idea, that you can actually see the thing in front of you.”
Field Trip uses GPS information to provide you facts about your environment, whether it’s interesting tourist spots, landmarks and historic sites or â€” for locals â€” new restaurants and nightclubs. As you make your way, say along a city street, small “cards” of information marking important sites pop up on Glass.
If you are interested, you can look up and say, “OK, Glass, read aloud,” and the eyewear will relate the information about the landmark using its built-in speaker. Apps on a smartphone are useful, “but tend to take you away from your physical environment,” he says. “(Field Trip) really showcases Glass as the way to get information.”
Tourists would benefit because Field Trip’s entries are “popping up as I’m walking up to the site,” Hanke says. “It’s not like you have to pull the guidebook out of your backpack and fumble through it.”
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Niantic has a team of researchers that scour the Web for sites that provide interesting historical information and other hyper-local data. Overall, Field Trip uses about 130 sources including local history book company Arcadia Publishing, history enthusiast site Historvius and lifestyle site Thrillist.
“Our goal was to find those sites and feature them and give them exposure and hopefully nourish this industry of local publishing,” Hanke says.
Historvius founder and CEO Mike Lewis, excited to be part of the early wave, calls Glass a “powerful” advance that brings historical sites “directly into your eye line.”
Pipeline Data CEO and market analyst Mark Gomes says Field Trip showcases the potential advertising and commerce implications of Glass.
Forrester Research technology analyst Sarah Rotman Epps expects Field Trip to be “one of the killer apps for Glass. It’s disappointing, but the fact is there just aren’t that many apps available right now.”
As a Glass tester, Rotman Epps wonders whether actually walking down the street and using Field Trip could prove distracting. But the app, she says, is the “type of content that’s contextually relevant and location-specific and is what Glass users will be looking for.”