Google Glass eyeing nonprofits to discover new use cases

Summary:Did you know that Google Glass could be used to monitor rhinos? Yes, that is happening.

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While many people like to focus the negative commentary surrounding Google Glass, from the creepy factor to getting users tossed out of bars, the Internet giant is hoping to do some good with the computerized frames.

In honor of Earth Day, the Mountain View, Calif.-based corporation is launching a contest that should drum up some new use cases for Glass -- notably in the nonprofit sector.

Highlighting the deployment of Glass and Glassware apps from the Arctic to the Amazon by the World Wildlife Fund as just one example, Google plans to award five U.S.-based nonprofits each with a Glass unit, a trip to a Google office for training, a $25,000 grant, and additional support from Google developers.

Here's one colorful example for Glass naysayers suggesting the wearable tech doesn't do anything original yet. Jacquelline Fuller, director of the tech company's charitable arm Google.org, noted in a blog post on Tuesday that Glass is even being used for monitoring and collecting data about rhinos:

Rhino monitoring can be a slow process, especially in habitats with tricky terrain, but data collection is crucial for making the right conservation decisions. Most parts of Chitwan National Park are inaccessible to vehicles, so Sabita and her team ride in on elephants, and have been collecting health and habitat data using pencil and paper.

Now custom-built Glassware (the Glass version of apps) called Field Notes can help Sabita do her work hands-free instead of gathering data in a notebook. That’s helpful for both accuracy and safety when you’re on an elephant.

Interested organizations can submit ideas between now and 11:59 PDT on May 20, 2014.

Google's buzzworthy (and sometimes controversial) digital headset has been making waves again lately.

Last week, even though a consumer version isn't supposed to hit the market until later this year, Google opened up the e-commerce flood gates to the public for one day only on Tuesday, April 15 .

Conveniently also falling on Tax Day, virtually anyone (in the United States) could apply to join the Google Glass Explorer Program as well as throw down $1,500 of their hard-earned cash for a prototype of his or her own. Without revealing sales figures, Google later boasted that the Gilt-like flash sale was a success.

Glass also made a huge step forward in preparing for a mass market launch with added support for the Apple iPhone as well as a booster shot for the companion Android app.

For a closer look at how Google Glass is being used by the World Wildlife Fund, check out the promo clip below:

Topics: Mobility, Android, Emerging Tech, Google, Start-Ups

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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