Google Glass is life-changer for those with disabilities

August 23, 2013 7:08:36 PM PDT
Google Glass probably won't go on sale to consumers for another year. But for one Bay Area woman, it's already been a life-changer. For someone living with a disability, the futuristic gadget is far more than a toy.

It's something Tammie Lou hasn't been able to do for almost two decades. A car crash in 1995 left her mostly paralyzed. Since then, life has been about finding workarounds.

"You just have to learn a whole new way to live," she said.

Her brother installed home automation.

"I can turn all the lights on in here," Tammie said. "I can change the channel."

Her service dog can open doors and turn on lights. But without mobility in her hands and fingers, Tammie had to give up a lifelong hobby.

"Taking pictures was big, I loved to take pictures," she said.

For years, she asked other people to take the pictures, but it wasn't the same. So she entered a contest to be among the first users of Google's new wearable device called "Glass."

And she won.

"It just opens up a whole new world that you just can't even imagine," she told ABC7 News.

Tammie was invited to Google's Glass Base Camp. A big room overlooking San Francisco Bay is where the earliest adopters, called "Explorers," go to be fitted for their glass devices by Google staff members.

"The team met her and she was just so enthusiastic and excited about the technology and just such an inspiring person to be around," recalled Google Glass communications manager Anna Richardson.

Tammie, it turns out, isn't the only quadriplegic Explorer.

"The last time I tried to go camping was the time I was in a car accident," Alex Blas-Chuck said.

She used Glass to make a video about her return to life after paralysis.

"This trip will be the first time I'm apart from a caregiver for more than just a few hours," Blas-Chuck said.

For Tammie too, a device she can operate with her voice and head movements is a game changer.

"Just being independent," she explained. "I can get out and I can go farther because if I need something, I can text. I can use the phone."

Now, Tammie cruises around town taking pictures for her blog and when she travels with her family, she uses Glass to find restaurants and get directions.

"I'm helping everybody out instead of everybody helping me out. You know? Now, it's just amazing," she said smiling. "I'm in. I'm in the game."


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