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Where's Waldo? Google Glass app helps find friends in a crowd

March 09, 2013|By Salvador Rodriguez
  • Glass is a smartphone-like device being built by Google.
Glass is a smartphone-like device being built by Google. (Google )

All kinds of uses are already being envisioned for Google Glass eyeware, and the one that's catching our eyes is an app that would help users find their friends and family in a crowd, and vice versa.

The app, dubbed InSight, would run on the user's smartphone. It would first take a picture of the user to create a digital fingerprint based on what they're wearing and physical characteristics such as long hair.

Once the fingerprint is processed, others who have the app and are wearing the Google's smart glasses would be able to find the user in, say, a crowded mall, stadium or flash mob.

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The app could also be used like a personal digital billboard. The feature could be handy at a job fair, for instance, where employers could identify applicants based on qualifications that users broadcast using the app.

"I might be at a conference and I might want to say, 'Hey, there's a great restaurant nearby. Who wants to join me for dinner?'" said Romit Roy Choudhury, one of the people developing the app and a professor at Duke University. "That's a tweet I want to share with people in that conference. That's not a tweet I want to share with my mom in India."

Choudhury is working on the app with two of his doctoral students, He Wang and Xuan Bao, and with Srihari Nelakuditi, a professor at the University of South Carolina. 

Google Glass isn't even on the market yet. To test the app, the group is running it on their Samsung Galaxy S III phones and using Pivothead glasses that have video cameras attached to them. In theory, the app will work with Google Glass and any type of smartphone.

Choudhury has, however, gotten to try the Google device, and he believes it will be a hit with consumers.

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"People will take a little while to get used to it, but once they get used to them, I think the reaction will be, 'Why haven't I had this this whole time?'" he said.

Choudhury and Nelakuditi have built augmented reality apps for smartphones, and they think the technology will be more effective on the smart glasses. With smartphones, users have to lift their phones to augment their vision. With Google Glass, the user would already be wearing it.

"We're interested in looking at the world and getting information about that world," Choudhury said. "Google Glass makes that much easier because it comes closer to human senses."

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