USA TODAY- A rare opportunity came my way in October when Google unveiled its Internet-surfing, voice and gesture-controlling eye glasses to the public for the first time in Durham, N.C., near where I live.
I'd heard (and written) about wearable technology and its power to access many apps and programs on a computer or smartphone without using hands.
But it wasn't until Google Glass was on my face, and a Glass Guide was talking me through its functions and features, that I really got it. Glass is like an add-on to my brain.
That got me thinking about the 10,000 men and women given the chance to buy Glass and test it in the past six months. These "Explorers" got a head start on developing the apps, called 'Glassware,' that will make the gadget the biggest innovation in mobile technology since the cellphone.
They are people and businesses that top-tier venture capitalists at Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers have pledged to fund through their new investment syndicate, Glass Collective. Other investors are expected to flock to Glassware when the device launches in 2014.
Who are these Explorers? What business opportunities do they see? Meet four enthusiastic Glassware developers convinced they're building the future of mobile.
• Tim Moore, a social media strategist in Wilmington, N.C., got his Glass in June, and immediately set to work solving what he believes to be Glass's biggest deficiency. Moore couldn't wear Glass with his prescription eyeglasses, drastically reducing its usefulness.
Working with New York eyewear manufacturer Rochester Optical, he will introduce the first prescription lenses and designer frames for Glass at the Wearable Technologies Conference in Munich in January.
Moore hasn't stopped there. He's interviewed dozens of doctors and firefighters, exploring ways to use Glass in medical practice or during emergency calls. He also launched a free consulting service called Venture Glass to provide resources for people developing Glassware. He might invest or partner with those contacting him for help. But mostly, he's listening to their ideas, offering advice and helping them meet other Glass experts and developers.
"I didn't see a resource out there," he says. "You had to be Google or a big company with real close connections to Google to even have an opportunity. I thought it should be a level playing field."
• Cecilia Abadie, a San Diego software developer, has launched Byte An Atom Research with a pair of co-founders. Their first product is LynxFit, a fitness application that acts as a virtual personal trainer, giving video and voice instructions during a workout and measuring the speed and direction of movements via Glass's accelerometer and gyroscope.
Abadie's team is in discussions with major fitness brands about releasing content via the application, helping to create a business around it, she says.
• Keith Myers didn't sleep for a week after he won a Twitter competition to receive Glass in July. The Miami software developer had one wish for Glass: that it notify him of potential hurricanes in his hometown, wherever he might be traveling in the world.
Free and paid versions of that application are ready to launch whenever Glass does.Myers is working on a bar-code scanning application for servers in massive data centers. Glass would scan a code on a server and show an information technology manager all the diagnostics, simplifying maintenance.
Myers expects to become a full-time Glass and wearable device developer in the next year.
• Barry Schwartz and his team at Web development firm RustyBrick in West Nyack, N.Y have built Glassware to serve their clients and their passions.
For EZContacts.com, Rusty Brick built a promotional app in which Glass users take an eye exam and share it through social media. For MarketingLand.com, Glassware pushes out content from the website as soon as it's published. For fun, Schwartz's team built Glassware that notifies Jewish people about ways to practice their faith throughout the day. It locates the nearest temples and kosher restaurants wherever a person might be in the world.
Schwartz sees his biggest opportunity in helping emergency room doctors. He and a medical client are discussing ways that Glass could deliver patient records - making treatment more efficient - or record procedures for training or tracking purposes.
Schwartz has advice for anyone dreaming up a business around Glassware: Consider how your data or content could help people in a hands-free, on-demand setting.
"Think about what people want and then send it to them when they need it," Schwartz says. "That's how to think about Glass."
(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)