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A firefighter from North Carolina is writing apps for Google Glass to make his job safer

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Patrick Jackson Google Glass
Patrick Jackson Google Glass

Google Glass is still a technology very much in its infancy, looking for the specific utilities and features that'll make it useful to a broader market than the developers and enthusiasts who are currently experimenting with the device. One of those developers is Patrick Jackson of Rocky Mount, North Carolina — the Glassware apps he's building aren't going to be the ones to make Glass a widely-accepted consumer device, but despite that, he's building out a specific, potentially life-saving use case for Google's wearable.

Custom Glassware for fighting fires

While Jackson may code and build apps during his downtime, his day job sees him battling fires as part of Rocky Mount's fire department — and he's building apps designed to save firefighters time and make their work a little bit faster, something that'll hopefully save lives. Right now, Jackson's incident notifications app routes incoming emergency calls to his Glass — it provides an address, map, and notes from the 911 emergency center, with an option to use turn-by-turn navigation to get to the scene. He's also built a "find a hydrant" app, which shows the closest fire hydrants to wherever that emergency call is.

Those two apps are working now, but he's also building out two more that are a bit more intriguing. One of them would provide building blueprints, floor plans, emergency exits, and other such vital information to firefighters before they even enter the building. A second, similar app would pull up schematics for a vehicle that shows exactly where to enter when using tools like the jaws of life to rescue people trapped inside.

Both of these apps are still works-in-progress, as Jackson needs more data to really flesh out the apps, but it's still a rather progressive approach for the tradition-heavy firefighting industry that still relies on books and binders of building schematics. For Jackson, though, Glass always felt like a natural fit for the work he does — it was clear from his submission in the #IfIHadGlass competition (copied below) that he had a very specific use case in mind for Google's headset:

As a career Firefighter, and a software engineer, I would use it to make firefighter's job safer and more effective. Mission critical information could be viewed quickly while never taking eyes off of the incident. Pictures and video could be recorded to add in fire investigation and incident critics. Personnel could stream realtime video to hangouts for an overview of the incident — view multiple sides from one location. Occupancy hazards could be in your view instantly instead of flipping through notebooks. Increased situational awareness!

Even if Jackson didn't get picked in the #IfIHadGlass competition, his apps might have gotten into the wild — he was writing them using the Glass Mirror API before he even picked up the headset. However, now that the has the headset and the full Glass Developer Kit is starting to make its way out to coders, he's been able to do a lot more. It's definitely a work in progress, but it's a good example of what Google hopes developers will think of when building Glassware — and it's the type of features that might help the world at large get used to Glass.