Glass gets non-profit deployment as Google pushes real-world relevance

Google has given five non-profits Glass headsets, to document their work as well as explore how wearables might impact charity operations. The scheme, which the search giant is calling "Google Giving Through Glass", has seen the head-worn computer handed out to the World Wildlife Fund, Samasource, Give Directly, DoSomething!, and charity: water to see how it "can amplify their impact and tackle some complex challenges" in projects around the world. Meanwhile, for Google it's an opportunity to fight suggestions that Glass is just a rich-geek's toy.

Each of the five non-profits – which cover the gamut from ensuring clean water supplies through to encouraging youth engagement in topical issues – will be trying to integrate Glass into their daily work. The first results are a gallery of photos taken with Glass' integrated camera.

However, the end-goal is to presumably show how Glass' other features – such as voice-controlled web searches, video calls, and tight integration with social – could be beneficial in the wild, since any cheap digital camera could take photos. According to Google, the charities "hope to bring more transparency to philanthropy, and close the gap between donors and the people they support."

Google, meanwhile, has come in for regular criticism over just how valuable Glass will be. Beyond the fact that the initial Explorer Edition is so expensive – something Google has said will be addressed for the consumer model, which will be a fraction of the current $1,500 charged – there have been suggestions that that Glass (and other wearables) are more like geek toys than devices with legitimate benefits to the mass market.

The search giant briefly attempted that back in June, with the quickly-aborted "Glass Sessions" project aiming to show how members of the team used the headset in their daily life. Reactions to the short lived video series were mixed, however, and Google did not continue it.

Demonstrating how Glass could enhance charitable works, however, might give the naysayers something to think about. Alternatively, of course, there's the possibility that the five non-profits struggle to find legitimate applications for Glass; we'll be keeping an eye on it to find out.