Save the last dance for Google Glass

Advances

Author: Geoffrey ChangPublished: 25 June 2015

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Moving Through Glass demo

How innovative new software is helping patients dance off symptoms while reviving Google Glass in the process

People with Parkinson’s attending Dance for PD classes in the US are trialling new software for Google Glass that allows them to have virtual dance classes from the comfort of their bedroom.

Google Glass was seen as failure in the eyes of many. In January 2015 Google announced that it was going to cease sales of the eyewear device, while remaining committed to the future development of the product.

But now, new software developed by Dance for PD is reviving hope that Glass could still prove valuable for a niche target audience: people with Parkinson’s.

The software, called Moving Through Glass, plays back pre-recorded dance and warm up routines via the device’s optical display, which is fixed to the specially designed glasses frame. Once an exercise is selected, a virtual dance instructor appears and leads the user step by step through the routine.

Moving Through Glass demo 2

David Leventhal, the director of the Mark Morris Dance Group’s Dance for PD programme, said: “Feedback, both from people with Parkinson’s and from neurologists, has been very positive. People love having a dance and music-based toolkit that is user-friendly and appears in their field of vision. They love that it’s hands-free and uses their voice to navigate the programme. They love being able to see dancers as ‘models’ for their own movements.”

The video content is displayed in the periphery vision and is designed not to disrupt the user’s reality, but augment it. This means the user can take the exercises with them wherever they go.

A year ago, Leventhal won a US$25,000 grant from Google’s Giving through Glass competition to bring the innovative concept to life. Although still in its first phase of testing, he hopes Google will want to support the second phase development.

He said: “The version of Glass we’re using now is no longer available commercially, but the silver lining is that we may be able to build the next phase of Moving Through Glass on an even more robust and affordable reincarnation of Glass that Google is working on right now. If that happens, I can see Moving Through Glass having a meaningful impact and being available to anyone who wants it, wherever they are.”


Dance for PD has been offering free dance classes for people with Parkinson’s since 2001. Read our in-depth article on the programme ‘Dancing like Parkinson’s ain’t watching!’

To find out more about Moving Through Glass, visit the website

Photo credit: Mark Morris Dance Group/Dance for PD

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