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Rachel Metz

A View from Rachel Metz

Virtual Tour Guide May Be Killer App for Google Glass

A Glass version of Google’s Field Trip app looks like the first good use case for the head-mounted computer.

  • August 21, 2013

Google has released a Google Glass version of its free iPhone and Android app Field Trip, which acts as a tour guide by offering location-based alerts to teach you about things you may be passing, such as historic sites. While I’ve always been intrigued by Google Glass and the benefits it may bring users (on-the-fly directions, searches, Web surfing, etc), this is the first application I’ve seen for which it really does make more sense to wear a head-mounted gadget rather than simply looking at a smartphone.

An image from a Field Trip promotional video shows how the app might look to a Google Glass user.

I wrote about Field Trip for MIT Technology Review after the app’s release late last year (see “Should You Go on Google’s Field Trip?”), and was impressed by its accuracy, ease of use, and customization, as well as its potential as a future home for targeted ads that are actually useful. It wasn’t that awesome to keep looking at my phone while using it, though–I’d much rather learn interesting details about, say, the Willie Mays statue in front of AT&T Park, while actually looking at (or at least in the direction of) it.

Sure, it would be really annoying to suffer an onslaught of notifications literally in your face whenever you walk around the city. But it would be pretty sweet when you specifically venture out to explore. And if Google does a good job of integrating ads they could be helpful for food, especially, to satisfy exploration-induced hunger pangs. And if you’re in a new city doing other touristy things, you probably already look kind of silly (Segway tour, anyone?), so I can’t imagine having Glass on your head would make things much worse.

I don’t have my own Glass, so I can’t try it out right now, but if you have access to it and try out Field Trip, let me know what you think in the comments.

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