Vitamin Y: Google Glass Hackathon


The second ever Canadian Google Glass Hackathon was held at the MaRs Discovery District at the end of April. Intended to inspire the creation of Glass applications that could benefit Toronto and its residents, v2 of the now annual event was sponsored by BNOTIONS — a local mobile strategy, data and analytics innovation firm and MaRS, with the support from the City of Toronto, which made its Open Data sets available to participants.

Led by Glass Explorer, Macy Kuang with assistance from Tom Emrich, writer and founder of We Are Wearables and the Wearable App Review, the Hackathon was populated by six development teams who were tasked with making “their app ideas come to life in one weekend.” The app outcomes, in no particular order, are listed in the chart below.

 Three keYs:

  • Crowdsource innovation a market play. Twice as many programmers joined this year’s Hackathon with more pairs of Glass. Emrich attributes greater participation to the fact that Google has released the Glass Development Kit, an add-on to the Android SDK that allows developers to build ‘Glassware’ on the popular platform. Google’s move to support Android is designed to attract the developer community and establish Google hegemony though yet one more hardware platform.
  • Data drives the apps and device adoption. To develop applications with more practical relevance to Toronto and residents, hackers relied on Open Data sets provided by the City of Toronto. The app list below shows applications that function as advanced city services, highlighting the potential for commercial application of Glass. Google Glass is moving from a consumer curiosity into the corporate world. Emrich argues that Glass ROI is even more obvious in corporate settings than in personal — in hospital surgery rooms, for example, or to support field workers in the forestry industry who can work hands free.
  • Wearables extend our sensory experience. Erich believes that wearables represent a new type of intuitive interface that blurs the line between computer and user. With camera, body motion detection and other sensors, Glass acts as an extension of our sensory input, creating augmented reality which is invoked in an intimate, physical way without obvious hardware intervention. Wearables like Glass serve, then, as a means to the next tech stage in which technology becomes a true backend function that is invisible to the user.

The bottom line.

A number of changes have to occur before sophisticated wearables like Google Glass become prevalent enough to inspire adaptation of our relationship with technology, not the least of which is cost. Currently, the technology is out of reach for many users from a pricing perspective, though Google competitors are now building prototypes in the $600-700 range. Another prerequisite is ubiquitous cloud connectivity, as access to data and applications are critical. Device functionality offers new and unique experiential potential, but as Emrich noted, apps will serve as the creative force that drives wearable adoption. These, in turn, are dependent on access to open government data sets, or to new information sources such as social media — a development that will shift the privacy conversation into hyperdrive. The wearable market is clearly on the rise — ABI Research has estimated an annual growth rate of 41% — and innovation in relevant use cases evident in sessions like the Hackathon. The real question is when?

App Name Short Description URL
GreenPFinder Find the closest Green P carpark
GlassBeach Displays reports from Toronto’s Open311 for beach water quality
Casa Find homes for sale and the location of nearby schools, fire/police stations, hospitals
Glass Tourguide Helps travellers explore the city. It has augmented reality to locate Points of Interest and plan your walking tour.
City Spot Find parking spots in Toronto with your Google Glass.
TARA TARA is a Tesla Automated Ride Assistant “who” personalizes your Tesla experience
311 Toronto 311 Toronto is a glassware that allows user to file city report through glass



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.