The next generation of reporters has something new in their toolbox and it could forever change broadcasting into a hands-free, first person experience.

Google Glass — a wearable computer that’s not yet available to the public – has been put in the hands of developers and other testers in the Glass Explorers program to field test, and for the last month, I’ve been experimenting with Glass to see how reporters might be able to use this hands-free device.

Glass is attached to a set of frames and sits high on the bridge of your nose. It functions much like an abbreviated version of your smart phone except you don’t have to bury your head in a screen to check text messages. Instead, the messages appear in your field of vision and then fade away.

Because of Glass’ connection to Google+ Hangouts, the device has the ability to change the news gathering landscape forever, leading to these top reasons to embrace this new technology.

A 1.5 ounce satellite truck

Think of Glass as a satellite truck where a reporter can go live, from their face. Doing a live report no longer requires a news van with a tall mast or even the reporter holding their smart phone. With Glass, a reporter can walk through a field or a parade and the viewer can see exactly what the reporter sees. Journalists are the eyes and ears of the public and now viewers can see and hear what the reporter senses.

First person perspective

“The most important role of a journalist from the perspective of producing news that may actually make people smarter about the world around them is to serve as ‘extended eyes, ears, and mouths’ of the audience,” said Paul Bolls, 2011-2012 Reynolds Fellow and associate professor of strategic communications at the Missouri School of Journalism. “(With Glass) the journalist is truly taking their minds to places that they can’t physically be.”

The Veterans United Network is currently using Glass to give Veterans a first person perspective of their memorials. These are veterans who are too sick to travel but yet they can still experience the sights and sounds of their memorial via Google Glass. The veterans join a Hangout and can watch different perspectives from the Rainbow Pool at the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, to the Arizona leaking oil in Pearl Harbor, to the waves on the beaches of Normandy, France.

Freedom of motion

Think about a riot, tornado or some other breaking news event where you would need to run or walk while you’re shooting video or doing a live report. Having your eye buried in a viewfinder can be dangerous if you’re walking through debris or crowds. If you’re walking while doing a live report, you are still likely tethered to a satellite truck which limits your mobility.

With Glass, your TV station could route the Hangout through its control room, and you could do a live report without taking your eyes off your path. No tripod. No news truck. Your hands now free, reporters could pick up objects from the tornado and show their audience exactly what they’re seeing.

Recording hands free also makes it easier to shoot longer video because you don’t have to hold up your camera or smart phone to capture it. Your hands or shoulders don’t get as tired. Tap your temple to record and go.

Social integration

Glass seamlessly integrates into social networks, especially YouTube. The integration is made possible through the “Full Screen Beam” app that allows the wearer to upload videos taken on Glass directly to YouTube. And, if you have instant upload activated on your Google+ account, then videos are automatically filtered into a private gallery on Google+ for re-sharing.

Journalists in the newsroom can also use the social integration of Glass to enhance broadcasts. For example, during live broadcasts I routinely use Glass to curate comments coming in from social streams, engaging with viewers, all without having my head buried in a laptop.

Developers understand the significance of journalists using Glass and apps (Glassware) will undoubtedly follow to enhance their experiences. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a teleprompter app in the future or even the ability to plug in an external microphone into the device. Perhaps a developer would create the ability to flip the camera so you could also see the reporter’s face.

How will hands-free reporting change the future of Journalism? It all depends on what those reporters decide to do with their extra set of hands.

See more about Sarah's experiments with Google Glass in Futures Lab Update 17


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