Using Google Glass for social science research…

ImageOr, put another way: I am about to become a ‘glasshole’. A research grant co-authored with a colleague from Urban Studies, appropriately named Michael Glass, has meant we are awaiting delivery of a bunch of video-recording equipment along with one very new, very shiny Google Glass kit.

Why for research in Urban Studies? We’re going on an international field trip to Malaysia and Singapore in a few weeks’ time with some University of Pittsburgh undergraduates. The research proposal for which we obtained the funding a few days ago is entitled ‘Developing Novel Methods with Wearable Computing for Urban Ethnographic Research’. Essentially, I’d like to attach these glasses to myself and the students in order to get (relatively) unobtrusive senses of ‘bodies-in-place’, thinking about the movement of head and eyes to capture the encounter with place, and to think about editing the resulting footage to represent this to others. Are there modes of walking, gaits, rhythms of the moving body that can be captured, reproduced, represented? This will be like a mobile urban laboratory using the streets and the ethnographic body, fostering productive and creative encounters for the students in the field. Hopefully. We’ll see. I’d like to post further reflections on this process in due course, including samples of video. So, as they say, watch this space…

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