Calling Google a controversial company is not an exaggeration. While the planned shutdown of Google Reader infuriates information junkies (like me), another project causes heated debate: Google Glass. This is a pair of "smart glasses" that can display information such as directions or incoming messages in the peripheral field of vision. It will also let the user take photos, record video and start video chats with others. Since this is a Google product, you can obviously search the web, too, just by using your voice. Oh, and it may even let you play Angry Birds at some point.
Computerized eyewear is not exactly new, but when Google tackles it, you can be sure that privacy advocates will jump at the opportunity to voice criticism. But my point is not about privacy implications, but rather about the potential that this technology holds for the interpreting profession. Initially, only developers could join the Glass programme. Recently, however, Google held a social media competition around the hashtag #ifihadglass. And people came up with great ideas.
Now here are a few wacky (and not always serious) ideas of mine for what Google Glass could do for us:
- Show a short list of the most difficult terms at all times (think fishery meeting)
- Take a picture of the speaker's slide (because he or she moved on to quickly) or of something that the speaker describes and have it present while I interpret
- Community interpreting: seeing the patient from the first responder's/nurse's/doctor's perspective (or the other way around) might improve performance for telephone interpreting settings
- Use speech-to-text technology for an automatic transcription of what I am currently interpreting, highlighting numbers, names and acronyms along the way
- Use face recognition to remind us of where we have seen that person over there before (or is that just me?)
So what would you do if you had Glass? LeVar Burton had this to say: