By Kevin Kelley
Google Glass, perhaps the best known wearable technology product, was the star at Westlake Porter Public Library’s maker fair Saturday.
ImageNation Web Experts, a Cleveland-based technology firm, brought its two pairs for visitors to try out.
“You can do anything (on Google Glass) you can on a cellphone,” explained Shana Mysko, a project manager with ImageNation.
Google Glass features a camera and a small display above the user’s right eye. Those features, along with its ability to respond to voice commands, means that a user can utilize its features without having to stop what one is doing, Mysko said.
“I never have to leave the action to do things,” Mysko said, referring to actions commonly made with smartphones, such as taking photos or videos.
“Most people are surprised by all the different functionalities it has,” Mysko told West Life.
The opportunty to try out Google Glass was part of what attracted Stephen Liu to Saturday’s library event. Liu told West Life he understands how the product would be useful in enabling one to look up information, such as driving instructions or restaurant reviews, quickly via the Internet.
However, Liu said he’s not likely to purchase Google Glass, which sells for $1,500, soon.
“I wouldn’t feel like I’d want to use it all the time,” said Liu, who, as someone who has yet to purchase a smartphone, acknowledges he’s not an early adopter of personal technology products.
Mel McGee, the owner of imageNation Web Experts, said her company uses its two pairs of Google Glass mainly for research and development in the creation of augmented reality applications.
McGee also runs a nonprofit organization called We Can Code IT, which encourages girls and women to pursue technology careers. Women can benefit from the high salaries information techology jobs pay, and companies benefit from having a diverse workforce, she said.
“It’s great for industry to have a female perspective,” McGee told West Life.
State-of-the-art classroom tool
Engineering teacher Scott Kutz’s classroom at Westlake High School has a piece of equipment few schools have today – a 3-D printer.
His students won it in April in a contest sponsored by rp+m, an Avon Lake firm whose initials stand for rapid prototype and manufacturing. His students designed and made a prototype of a mobile video projector that could be easily mounted anywhere in a classroom.
Kutz and his students demonstrated their 3-D printer at Porter’s maker fair Saturday. The $2,500 device works by melting a spooled thread of plastic and reforming the plastic into an project designed on a computer.
The manufacturing process can take some time. A three-inch-tall green W, the Westlake High School logo, took more than two hours to create, Kurtz said.
Kutz is still working on ways to integrate the device into his classes.
“The more we’re using it, we start to discover other things we can do with it,” Kutz said.
One student already used the 3-D printer to create sections of a winning entry in the home design contest that Kutz’s students regularly dominate.
Legos that move
The FIRST Lego League (FLL) is an international competition that introduces students to engineering by building Lego-based robots that complete various tasks on a thematic playing surface. Fourth-grader Olivia Bilski and eighth-grader Jonathan Kiss are members of an FLL team called Bovine Warriors. The group meets once a week at Porter or the North Olmsted Branch Library.
Saturday, Bilski and Kiss demonstrated how they programmed their Lego robots to pick up a ball and other items. Lego’s Mindstorms kits contain software and hardware to create customizable, programmable robots.
FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. The FLL was founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, according to the organization’s website.
Saturday’s event at Porter was intended to introduce visitors to the “maker movement,” a cultural and economic trend of individuals and groups using new technology to manufacture products. Some say the movement has the potential to do for manufacturing what the Internet, inexpensive printers and desktop publishing software did to publishing.
Public libraries have increasingly been a catalyst in the maker movement, Porter Director Andrew Mangels has said. The creation of “maker spaces” at libraries was a trending topic at the American Library Association’s annual conference in Chicago last summer, Mangels told West Life.