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Fast Forward Blog

Try technology before dismissing it

By - Last modified: May 10, 2013 at 1:36 PM

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Hope Stephan
Hope Stephan

I am finding the troglodyte reaction to Google Glass amusing – and a bit eye-rolling.

Google Glass – a tiny computer you wear like a pair of glasses – is being field tested now, but already there are demands to ban the device and proposed legislation to restrict the technology's use. People fear it will violate their privacy or lead to the posting of their deepest, darkest secrets on the Web.

Really? As this article on Slate notes, Google Glass is the last device you'd choose to spy on someone. It's pretty conspicuous. And there are plenty of insidious, cheaper alternatives.

I'd rather think about how Google Glass will change the way we work – though that's no easy task. Technology has a way of surprising even its creators.

If you got your first email account more than 20 years ago, for example, the problem was not how to control the volume of your Inbox – it was finding someone else to email. Now you could argue that the convenience of email has driven the expansion of the Internet and even desktop computers out of the office and the lab into homes, and then our pockets.

When Twitter launched almost six years ago, its inventors wanted an easier way to send text messages, and many people laughed at its "trivial" 140-character format. Then smarter people turned it – and Facebook and other social media platforms – into an everyday business tool; they use it now for everything from crowd sourcing and community building to emergency broadcasting, marketing and real-time reporting (in addition to sharing links to cat videos).

Twitter and Facebook are credited with facilitating the Arab Spring uprisings and continue to be agents of democracy worldwide.

So let's think about business and tiny wearable computers that can be activated with a voice command or the wink of an eye.

Site evaluation? I can imagine an architectural engineer using Google Glass to link to building information software and a tablet to generate preliminary sketch plans in the field.

Logistics? An employee equipped with Google Glass could tap directly into a database by scanning the warehouse shelves and immediately order up or send out supplies as needed.

How about medicine? Imagine a gathering of medical students – or the best surgeons in the world – following your procedure, all connected by the headset your physician is wearing as he operates. Or emergency response personnel sending live video and data, hands free, to the trauma team back at the hospital. And remember this is multidirectional communication. Those care givers can be calling up information on the fly to help you.

With your intimate knowledge of your business, you can think of far better applications, I'm sure. Let me know what you think.

All technology is ripe for abuse. But let's see the positive applications before we rush to stifle innovation.

The look ahead

Lots of networking opportunities in the coming week:

Tuesday: Mechanicsburg chamber Business Women's Networking Luncheon: 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Upper Allen Township.

Wednesday: Lancaster Area Express Network chapter of the American Business Women's Association, meeting: 7:30-9 a.m., Manheim Township; Mary Kohler, president of H&H Graphics, will discuss "Business Transitions: Family and Industry."

Thursday: Lancaster Young Professionals New Member Meet & Greet, 6-6:30 p.m., and Third Thursday Networking Mixer, 6:30-8:30 p.m., East Hempfield Township.

Thursday: Central Pennsylvania Gay and Lesbian chamber business networking mixer: 6-8 p.m., Harrisburg.

Also of note Tuesday:

Everence Financial, seminar: 7:30-9 a.m., East Lampeter Township, "Navigating the New: Health Care Reform and You," with speaker: David Gautsche, senior vice president of products and services at Everence; free; details at RSVP.Lancaster@everence.com or 717-653-2977.

Statistically speaking, the government focus is on consumers: Retail sales and business inventories (Monday); Consumer Price Index and housing starts (Thursday); and consumer sentiment (Friday).

And on Wednesday, there's the Producer Price Index. Leading indicators comes out Friday.

The rewind

The spring edition of Currents has a story on how BIM -- building information modeling -- is changing the way construction is done in the midstate.

Also, a couple of weeks ago, I referred to our story on plans to do local tours debunking the popular cable TV show "Amish Mafia." After a cease-and-desist order, the tours are off.

Finally, in researching this week's blog, I spent too much time trying to track down which major computer company executive famously proclaimed, "There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home." That was Ken Olson in 1977, then CEO of Digital Equipment Corp., once the number-two computer firm in the country. It's what he said, but as this article notes, "Context is still king."

Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@cpbj.com

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