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High-Tech Spotlight: Wearable Technology and Google Glass on the Farm

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Farming is an industry that embraces opportunities for advancement. While some basic agricultural principles and techniques date back hundreds (even thousands) of years, farmers are known to be among the early adopters of technology, continuously introducing new tools and methodologies that will improve efficiencies, increase outputs, and ensure the safety of workers and the environment.

From state-of-the-art irrigation systems and planting breeding, to mapping of crops and land via global positioning systems (GPS), farmers have a long history of innovation through technology and practices.

So what’s next? Well, based on recent industry and technology features, it appears wearable technology will be one of the next breakthrough technologies on the farm.

What is Wearable Technology?

If you’re not familiar with wearable technology, here are some of the basics:

  • Electronic devices that can be worn (clothing and accessories), and incorporate computer and advanced, sensory-based technology.
  • Related to the idea of wearable computing/ computers and the integration of technology in everyday life.
  • Examples include Bluetooth pieces, smart clothing, fitness monitors and Google Glass.

While skeptics doubt the practical application and adoption of this technology, the tech industry is ramping up investments. In fact, Motorola Mobility (Google) announced that it will hire a Director for Wearable Technology this year.

And, based on feedback from beta users of Google Glass, indications seem to agree that we’re at the brink of exploring the future of mobile, hands-free technology.

A Revolutionary POV: Google Glass

As to be expected, one of the first-to-market products was developed by Google. Google Glass is in essence a hands-free, mobile computer and phone. Worn like a pair of regular glasses, the device can perform a variety of tasks cued by voice commands, including:

  • Read, and respond to, text messages and emails
  • Google search
  • Google Maps and directions
  • Records videos and takes pictures
  • Shares live videos from your viewpoint
  • Translates a phrase or sentence from one language to another
  • Integration with Google Now (keeps track of your daily habits to keep you on schedule)

Visit Google Glass for more information on the glasses and how you can get a pair.

Google Glasses for Farmers

Recently, published several articles about Google Glass and its application to agriculture, including video testimonials from real farmers that participated in a beta program—dubbed Google Glass Explorers.

As James Rivington of explains in his July 3, 2013 article, “Essentially, Google Glass is a camera, display, touchpad, battery and microphone built into spectacle frames so that you can perch a display in your field of vision, film, take pictures, search and translate on the go.”

Here are a few practical applications for farmers (roundup from testimonials, as well as our own thoughts):

  • Glasses are lightweight and durable, made from titanium and plastic.
  • According to Google, the prism display is “the equivalent of a 25-inch high definition screen from eight feet away.”
  • Offers farmers, mechanics and other workers a hands-free solution to answer emails and texts while they are working in the field or on equipment if their hands are too dirty to pick up the phone.
  • Search feature would provide access to real-time information needed for any variety of reasons—identifying of plants and animal species, soil compositions, conversion metrics, equipment pieces, weather forecasts and trends, etc.
  • Maps and directions would serve useful while traveling across acres of land, to distribution centers, markets and other business meetings.
  • Video recording feature would allow farmers to document the process of assembling and disassembling equipment, cleaning and operating machinery, planting and harvesting of crops, and more. These videos could then be used for other employee training or as a reference point for that farmer.
  • Photos would enable the documentation day-to-day activities and time-lapse crop growth.
  • Streaming live video from a farm or facility with another location/ worker would serve useful in problem solving and troubleshooting, as well as a live view of current crop and field conditions.
  • Translation tools would serve helpful for communicating with migrant workers and foreign partners.
  • Google Now integration could track usual schedule, location, weather and more.

Whether or not Google Glass breaks into the mass market, this revolutionary technology offers a number of practical applications for farmers, and has potential to meet a variety of needs.

How could you see Google Glass improving the daily operations of your agribusiness or family farm? Would you consider using it—why or why not?

Want to see what the world looks like through Google Glass? Watch this demo video.

Links to original articles and videos:

Image credit: Ted Eytan (flickr member profile)