College of Education > News and Publications > News: April-June 2013 > Graduate Student's Proposal for Google Glass is Accepted by Google

Graduate Student's Proposal for Google Glass is Accepted by Google

Sam Sennott, a Ph.D. candidate in the College of Education, has been accepted into Google's latest test group to develop an accessibility tool for people with a wide range of disabilities.

A Ph.D. candidate in Penn State’s College of Education is working to make a new technology into a tool to assist people with disabilities. Sam Sennott applied to the recent Google Glass project, which was offering Google’s hands-free, wearable computer to researchers and consumers as a part of the company’s research and development.

Sam SennottSennott said he was eager to apply for the new technology when he heard about it in 2012. He submitted his 50-word entry in February, and Google contacted him about a month later to invite him to join the program. He said he anticipates receiving his Glass this summer.

“The overarching goal is to use Google Glass as an accessibility tool for people with a wide range of physical, communication, and cognitive disabilities,” said Sennott.

There are three primary areas that Sennott identifies as possibilities for this project.

“First, will be helping people who struggle to speak by working with Glass as an augmentative communication tool,” said Sennott. “Second, will be to develop a range of assistive technology solutions. Third, will be looking at how parents, teachers, and other related service providers can use Glass to enhance their work with students.”

Hacking things together to make them work is what special educators do on a daily basis, according to Sennott, so coming up with a new way to use Glass was natural.

“It is in my DNA to make solutions work out of whatever materials are available and to seek out new tools to get the job done for the students and families we serve,” said Sennott. “For me, all it takes is being with the individuals I serve and the ideas start flowing. I am committed to harnessing the power of innovative new consumer technologies to make a difference.”

This is not the first time Sennott has adapted a new technology to be used as an accessibility tool. He was able to collaborate on creating a popular technology for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

“I co-created the original Proloquo2Go,” said Sennott, “the iOS software that helps people who have difficulty speaking due to disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, and developmental disabilities,”

Sennott anticipates that the assistive technology community will support this project.

“The assistive technology community is incredible,” said Sennott. “They mobilize quickly and are really generous with lending a hand to share about important new developments in the field.”

Sennott, who will be joining the faculty of Portland State University this fall, said he plans on using Google Glass as a part of his research in his new position, but he is cautious about his predictions for this project.

“My hope is that it provides tools that are powerful, discrete, and always nearby,” said Sennott.