Farmers have more than enough to keep their hands busy.
With the Google Glass device, they can perform a variety of computer functions without ever taking their hands off the tractor wheel.
“It’s a smart phone that happens to be on your face,” said entrepreneur Bruce Rasa, who was among the “Explorers” chosen by Google to try the wearable computer.
Rasa has founded a company, Tekwear, dedicated to turning such technology into an agronomic tool.
Currently, smart phones and tablet computers force people to walk around with their heads down, not engaging with the world, he said at the recent Oregon Precision Farming Expo in McMinnville, Ore.
Google Glass allows people to shoot videos, view photos, get driving directions and search the internet while remaining aware of their surroundings.
The information is displayed through a prism on the headset and appears to be floating on a semi-transparent screen in front of you, Rasa said.
The device responds to voice commands and a touchpad on the headset, he said.
A farmer can use Glass to communicate hands-free with an agronomist to diagnose a crop disease or with a technical specialist to fix an equipment problem, Rasa said.
The process is less awkward than trying to accomplish such tasks by videoconferencing on another mobile device, he said.
“They see what you see and what you have your two hands on,” he said.
Rasa also envisions farmers using the device to remotely monitor livestock and view data from field sensors or unmanned aerial vehicles.
An “ecosystem” of software applications for Glass is currently in its infancy and will likely become available when the device is sold commercially later in 2014 or 2015, he said.
Additional on-farm uses for the technology will likely become apparent when more farmers get their hands on the devices, he said.
Rasa gave the example of his grandfather, who felt overwhelmed by the possibilities of his first 35 horsepower tractor — a seemingly enormous amount of power at the time, but relatively minor compared to today’s tractors.
“You will figure out what to do with all this technology,” he said.