Endless Jewish Possibilities of Google Glass

Need a Kosher Cafe? Forgot a Holiday? There Are Apps for That

Glassy Eyed: Jewish web developers see a world of possibilities in the new Google Glass.
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Glassy Eyed: Jewish web developers see a world of possibilities in the new Google Glass.

By JTA

Published May 30, 2013.
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Potential Jewish applications for Glass are endless, Schwartz says.

“Let’s say you want to buy an etrog,” he said. “You can create a Google Hangout and have a rabbi look at the etrog as you are looking at it. The rabbi can ask you to turn it to the right and turn it to the left, and can give you an opinion about it right away.”

Mike Vidikan of the Washington, D.C.-based organization Innovaro, which provides insights about how new technologies will shape the future business environment, expects that Glass also could significantly change how consumers shop for kosher food.

“As they start inspecting a particular group of foods,” he explained, “notifications could pop up with information about the kosher certifications, as well as reviews, and who in their social networks recommend it.”

In education, where information technology already is transforming the classroom experience, Glass could be yet another game-changer. Hebrew school classes could tour Israel virtually, seeing the country though the eyes of a guide equipped with the device. Students in various locations could participate in classes together, following text as seen through the eyes of a teacher.

Cohen, who teaches at a public school in central New Jersey, plans to develop an application that will help him learn his students’ names.

“I don’t remember all the names of my students during the first weeks of school,” he said. “I want to be able to look at them and have their names overlapped on top.”

Despite the enthusiasm, tech experts from Jewish day schools are skeptical. Price is one factor. At $1,500, Glass is significantly more expensive than an iPad or similar devices.

Educators also are understandably uneasy about a device that can snap pictures, literally, with the wink of an eye. Others point out that since Glass’ apps are still being developed, its educational value remains to be seen.

“In a traditional classroom, I don’t see where wearing the computer on my face is an enormous quantum leap in ease of use, efficiency and productivity over traditional computer modalities,” said Seth Dimbert, director of educational technology at the Scheck Hillel Community School in North Miami Beach, Fla.

“It’s actually less useful if only I can see a computer screen. Classrooms are about collaboration with the people around you and making screens bigger and more portable, so more people can gather around them at once.”

Rabbi Tzvi Pittinsky, director of educational technology at The Frisch School in Paramus, N.J., expressed doubts as well.

“Teenagers are freaked out by Google Glass,” he said. “Who would want to have these glasses on all the time? It’s scary.”

Ultimately, however, many believe that it’s just a matter of time before Glass becomes more widely accepted. Many technologies now considered indispensable were greeted initially with skepticism.

“If people adopt it at the rate that they adopted smartphones,” Schwartz predicts, “then it will have a huge impact on Jewish life.”


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