Testing for the Future: How an IT Student Seeks to Help Shape Google Glass

Marina Grebenshchikova conducts research and testing for new, beta technology

Marina's photo

Marina demonstrating Google Glass

As online data breaches continue to challenge companies’ and consumers’ trust in cybersecurity, UC information technology major Marina Grebenshchikova is keen on exploring the risks associated with ever-evolving technology advances. Currently, she is applying what she has learned in her classes to conduct research with Google Glass, a wearable computer built into eye glasses. It’s an apt account of the different types of IT-related questions and challenges she may encounter in the industry upon graduation in 2017, especially if she pursues a career in software development and works on products or applications from conception, to testing, to market entry.

“Technology is growing rapidly; what once weighed tons of pounds a decade ago can now rest lightly on our faces,” said Grebenschchikova of Google Glass. “But with great advances come even greater risks. I wonder, are they worth it?”

An IT major and technology enthusiast through and through, Grebenschchikova is an ambassador for the new technology and a part of Google Glass’ Explorer program, which provides feedback on the product. She is excited to be testing and researching the product while it is in beta and not yet available to the public.

“I have a part in making the technology better and giving feedback,” she said. “Currently, I don’t think the prototype is probable. The battery doesn’t last more than two hours, and it overheats quickly.”

In addition to product design questions and challenges, issues of privacy and security have risen for Google Glass and its users. The product’s discrete photo and filming features as well as its ability to access e-mail, texts, and the Internet via voice and physical commands adds another layer to ongoing privacy and cybersecurity concerns.

Marina photo

Beyond testing Google Glass, Grebenschchikova has envisioned an app that she wants to write for the product that will use wearers’ database of contacts – from Facebook or cell phone address books, for example – and facial recognition technology to identify contacts on wearers’ Google Glass screen/lens as they move through the day.

“Imagine it! Teachers could take attendance in the blink of an eye,” she said of her app idea. “What Google Glass looks like and does now will in no way be what it will look like and do five years from now.”

Grebenschchikova isn’t the only one who is interested in the new technology. In addition to conducting testing and research, she has demonstrated Google Glass in her internship at GE Aviation. A unique learning opportunity for Grebenschchikova and GE employees alike, her demo was both exciting and thought-provoking.

“Since I’ve received the product and have an interest in sharing it with people, I’ve gotten more comfortable speaking to large groups of people and giving presentations,” Grebenschchikova said.

Similar to Grebenschchikova’s thoughts about the ways that companies improve their products for optimal user experiences, she seeks to perpetually improve her understanding of technology and the ways in which it shapes society.

“There are a lot of opportunities for IT students to test products like I’m doing,” she said. “A lot of companies want you to try their products. Write a proposal that shows what you want to do, and go accomplish it.”

Grebenschchikova was able to fund her Google Glass research through the support offered in the School of Information Technology for undergraduate research. With the help of her faculty advisor, Dr. Hazem Said, director of the School of Information Technology and associate professor, she developed a proposal and secured a research grant to launch her project.

Grebenschchikova encourages other students to explore ideas to develop new solutions for current and future issues and apply to be a part of the mentoring grant program, as she has done. Visit the School of Information Technology undergraduate research page for more information about submitting an idea for the IT mentoring grant program.