A wearable computer described as “a smartphone for your face” has the potential to help row-crop farmers operate more efficiently and profitably.
Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station researchers Greg Pate and John Fulton tested the yet-to-be-released device—called Google Glass—in cotton fields at Auburn’s E.V. Smith Research Center.
“I can use one of these devices to capture in-field information that can be stamped by time, date and GPS coordinates and can be automatically archived,” Fulton said. “In the blink of an eye or a tap [of the Google Glass], I’ve made a screen capture that could be of critical importance later in the crop season.”
Pate, who used Google Glass to inspect a cotton field, said wearable computers could prove useful in many facets of farming, particularly crop consulting.
“We have lots of farmers who receive data compiled by a scout [crop consultant] and question it or dismiss it as someone’s opinion,” he said. “With Google Glass, a consultant can pull up the data that was compiled and say, ‘Here it is.’”
Pate is director of E.V. Smith, located off I-65 between Montgomery and Auburn, and Fulton is Extension specialist and associate professor of biosystems engineering at Auburn.
Bruce Rasa, a farm technology consultant and one of 8,000 people worldwide whom Google commissioned as Glass Explorers to test the device.
“It’s like a smartphone for your face that enables hands-free use,” Rasa said.
Rasa introduced Pate and Fulton to the pair of glasses with a tiny computer mounted just above the right eye.
Uploading data into a cloud where it can be retrieved for future reference is also appealing to Pate, who is responsible for every facet of farming at the 3,816-acre research center.
Google has said Glass will be commercially available in 2014, but the corporation has not indicated what the price tag will be.