One of the most talked-about computer devices this year is not a game system or a phone. It's a computer that you wear like eyeglasses called Google Glass.
It's not yet available to average consumers, but a graduate student at USF is among several thousand "Explorers" across the nation chosen by Google to test the device. Using his Google Glass, he can read and send email, surf the web, text, take photos, and record video without looking down.
The Google Glass has a heads-up display that allows the wearer to see the screen, which is suspended just above the normal field of vision, without looking down.
"The first question is - How did you get it?" said Joe Evans, who describes himself as a "techno-archeologist."
The answer? He applied to Google and told them he intended to use the device to open a new world for archeology students.
THE USF EXPLORER
Evans is 28 years old. He grew up in a poor family in Louisiana and became interested in archeology by reading National Geographic magazine. When it was time to go to college, he decided to become a computer science major, but, at the suggestion of an advisor, combined his love of archeology with computers. He's now working on his Ph.D. in archeology and also works as a teaching assistant.
When we visited his class, he was using his Google Glass to connect students live with an archeologist on a Mexican mountain working to save an ancient temple.
"Joe is capturing what's going on in the classroom live and sharing it with our Mexican counterpart," explained Prof. Lori Collins, who helped Evans acquire the device. "Students are opening up in ways they haven't opened up before."
TRY IT ON
Google has selected Explorers in virtually every walk of life to study all the ways the device might be used. Some of the Explorers are disabled and use the device without having to hold it in their hands. Google videos show Glass users ranging from musicians to skydivers.
I became the 227th person to try Evan's device. For me, to see the computer information virtually hanging in mid-air was similar to watching a hockey game while glancing up at the scoreboard and video screen in the arena.
BRAVE NEW WORLD
Evans is also considering the challenges that come with the device. It can allow the wearer to record conversations or cheat on tests.
"I always let people know I have this and I make it known that I could record and I ask them if it's OK. If it's not, I respect their wishes," said Evans.
States will eventually have to decide if the Google Glass can be used while driving. Is it a distraction? Or is the heads-up display no different than technology used by jet fighter pilots?
There are so many possibilities.
"I'm having so much fun. I love being an Explorer," Evans smiled.
Who knows? He may have been reading email as he answered.
For a close look at Google Glass, visit http://www.Google.com/glass