Wearable Tech World Feature Article
April 29, 2013

Google Glass Apps Start to Appear: What's Next, Sports?

The Internet was abuzz with the news that The New York Times (NYT) already is out with an app for Google Glass. Downloadable now, the app will allow those lucky few who are the first to get a pair of the augmented reality glasses the ability to not only not have to get their fingers dirty with print, but also not have to lift anything to view the online contents of the paper and receive alerts. 

For those of you who follow my postings, you may remember that a few weeks back I detailed my tale of woe about being a long-time subscriber to the physical version of the paper and how NYT has provided me such a poor customer experience that I canceled my subscription and now only get the digital copy due to its ineptitude. May be its end-game in dealing with me was to get me to purchase a new pair of shades. 

The discussion of apps on tap for Google Glass has been a hot topic of conversation around the Wearable Tech World water cooler, which truth be known is more about hot caffeine than cool drinks of H2O, but serves the same important function. Since we all seem to be sports nuts, a characteristic that transcends every vital demographic and psychographic category, talk about what to do with Google Glass has centered around whether athletics needs to be mindful of what is going on in the wearable tech arena.

What we concluded is this had better be on the sports establishment radar screen (pardon the pun).

Source: Google Images

I thought I would share some of the potential uses/abuses we have been kicking around:

  • Baseball: Batters could get feedback on a pitch based on instant analysis for when the ball left a pitcher’s hand, including info on rotation (curve, fastball, splitter, knuckleball, etc.). Pitchers get feedback on the leads being taken on runners. Coaches could relay signals but might be concerned about them being hacked and or intercepted. The potential uses are in short myriad.
  • If baseball has lots of potential uses for Google Glass, they seem paltry compared to football. How about quarterbacks being able to call an audible play based on the recognition of a defense? Kick returners could know the best path to avoid tacklers based on their calculated speeds and angles of pursuit. Voice recognition would enable the accumulation of the other team’s play counts. Field goal kickers and punters could better determine directionality based on analysis of prevailing weather conditions and player alignments. And, that is just the start.
  • In hockey, think about how valuable Google Glass would be for a goalie.
  • Google Glass in basketball, because of all the movement, could allow players to anticipate defenses and based on certain calculations adjust their shots.
  • Golfers could have all kinds of incredible information instantly available in contemplating their shots that go well beyond mere GPS stats.

I won’t continue since the list of sports where Google Glass could have impact covers virtually all of them, from horse racing to car racing, from soccer to lacrosse to fencing, rowing and bowling. Indeed, only because of possible injury it would appear that wrestling and boxing don’t have to be concerned. 

Where things got heated here in the office was about whether the use of Google Glass should/would be banned in the future. I said this was a no-brainer and that all sports would prohibit their use because they would augment reality, i.e., distort the fundamental essence of the sports. Certain cohorts, who shall remain nameless to protect their identities, argued that when the cost of wearable augmented reality devices of all kinds come down and they become readily available, that there is an attraction of their use actually (again pardon the pun) leveling the playing field and increasing the strategic aspects and hence the entertainment value of at least professional sports. 

Call me old fashioned, but I view this as either cheating if there is an uneven arms race not just for the glasses but also access to apps and the best developers. I also think that talent and unpredictability are why we watch sports, along with giving many a reason to wager, and the diminution of them would do violence to most people’s enjoyment of the competitions.

All of this conversation has been helpful as we get ready for the TMC Wearable Tech Expo to be held July 24 and 25 at the Kimmel Center on the NYU campus in New York City. This will be a unique event for finding out about this fast-moving area and an opportunity to check out the latest and greatest stuff. It will also be a terrific opportunity to weigh-in on what sports should do in the face of what could be sizable disruption. In fact, why limit the discussion to sports? Articles have already appeared that predict there will be 16 million wearable devices three years from now, along with several denouncing them and authors contending that privacy concerns will cause widespread banning of their use.

Join us in NYC. We’d love to hear your opinion. In the meantime, if you have a pair, enjoy reading the NYT. I am sure its sports writers will have an opinion on all of this at some point.

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