Google Glass tested in Central Florida

'Explorers' finding new uses, hoping to cure autism

Author: Erik von Ancken, Anchor/Reporter, evonancken@clickorlando.com
Published On: Nov 06 2013 11:00:00 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 06 2013 11:47:57 PM EST

Google enlisted some 8,000 people across America to test out the company's new Google Glass before it goes on sale to the public.

Only a handful of “explorers” were selected in Central Florida and Local 6 discovered they're using the Glass in ways that Google likely never expected!

Glass is an eye-piece containing a camera and a tiny prism that projects an image in front of the eye, usually the screen of a cell phone or tablet. Voice commands and touching the side of the Glass allow a user to surf the web, record videos, watch movies, and even send messages.

Delsa Darline of Ocala is one local explorer selected by Google. In her entry form, she told Google she wanted to see what Glass could do for her 8-year-old autistic son.

"And I said I wanted to be able to capture the raw moments again, without breaking them,” said Darline. “And what I mean by that is that now that he's older, he sees me pull out a video camera, he knows I'm recording, he'll suddenly ham it up or shy away."

Darline said it was video in the first place that helped get her son Rory diagnosed when he was a baby.

"So I set up cameras in his room day and night and went right back to the doctor's office and said 'look at this, this is what I'm saying, the moment, look at his eyes, he's in pain, something is hurting him, bothering him,'” said Darline. “This is so much more than a baby just crying or wanting attention.”

These days Rory is keenly aware of the camera, so Darline said she uses the Glass to continue to capture his behavior, candidly and unaltered. She wears the Glass on her head for much of her day at home and at her Ocala office, quietly recording Rory's every moment.

“There's times where he's like no mom (laughs), putting his hands up and says not right now, I don't want to be videotaped,” said Darline. “But sometimes those moments are the exact moments that need to be shared with other parents so other parents can say that's right, I see that in my own child!"

Darline shares the videos recorded through Google Glass with parents and doctors around the world. She explained that many children with autism are incredibly sensitive to sights, sounds, and smells because of a sensory processing disorder.

"There was a bright light I didn't notice. The light was on, it was a lot brighter, the video is picking it up, he's obviously picking it up, and that bothered him. That could have triggered something,” said Darline. "You may not have noticed it, you may not have heard the hum of a fridge, or the ticking of a clock, but now the camera's picking it up, and now you're hearing it, and now you're noticing it, and now you're going, ohhh, that's what it was, that's what set him off. And when you notice it, you can control the situation that much better."

[WEB EXTRA: Google Glass]

In Rory's younger years, he used to have to communicate through sign language. Doctors insisted he would never succeed in a mainstream school.

Darline believes she's proved them wrong. Rory attends a mainstream school and communicates as well as any 8-year-old.

Additionally, Darline said there's an app in the works that will interpret facial expressions because some with autism have a tough time understanding emotions projected on people's faces. She said the app could instantly tell you that a person is sad, happy, or angry, and ultimately if it's a good time to approach that person.

Local 6 asked Darline if she believes a cure for autism could come from the glasses.

“Anything is possible. I never say never," said Darline. “I never say never because of that. Maybe something can come from somebody watching the video and maybe someone suddenly pins things together somehow. But who knows."

Adam Avitable is another local Google Glass explorer. He's a comedian at The Improv at Pointe Orlando on International Drive.

"Hi I'm Adam Avitable, and you're probably wondering why I'm wearing this one my face, this is called Google Glass,” he tells his audience. "I don't know why they chose me to be one of their beta testers. I'm guessing they ran out of guys living in their parents basements with pocket protectors and decided to pick someone like me."

Avitable loves to joke about the Glass, incorporating it into his nightly comedy routine. He said in his entry form he told Google he simply wanted to make people laugh.

“You are not changing the world?” asked Local 6.

“Nope... I'm having fun with them. I'm enjoying having something brand new that nobody else has,” said Avitable. “I get free drinks, i get into bars and clubs!”

Darline said a tech-saavy analyst at Disney was also selected to test out the Glass, along with a local television producer.