- Mobility is one of many factors that may draw farmers to using wearable computers.
- Visual, textual and other data uploaded on the go via Google Glass and other wearable devices will not only be available for future reference but can also be shared on a real-time basis.
GREG PATE, an agronomist and director of the E.V. Smith Research Station near Montgomery, Ala., uses Google Glass to scout cotton for the first time in history. In this case he is checking for boll rot.
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“Look, Mom, no hands.”
In the case of wearable computers, such as Google Glass, this is perhaps more aptly phrased, “Look, Mom, both hands” —one of the reasons why three technology experts believe that wearable computers are primed to make steep inroads into several facets of farming.
Farmers place a high premium on mobility — namely, the ability to communicate and to upload and download digital information on their mobile devices while their hands are free to conduct all manner of essential business on the farm, whether it’s crop scouting, repairing an irrigation system or calibrating a sprayer.
“I could be wrong, but my view is that farmers have always been mobile and that they’ve always wanted to work with their hands,” says Bruce Rasa, a farm technology consultant and a former Missouri 4-H state president who grew up on a farm. Rasa is also a Google Glass Explorer, one of 8 thousand people in the world commissioned by Google to test the device and to gain a better understanding of how people will use it. He has already shared Google Glass with 400 people from 20 different countries.
Rasa describes Google Glass as a “smartphone for your face that enables hand-free use.” And it’s precisely this characteristic that may enable farmers finally to have their proverbial cake and eat it too, namely to work with their hands while deriving the full benefits of mobile technology, he says.
But he and two other farm technology experts contend that mobility is only one of many factors that ultimately may draw farmers to wearable computers. For John Fulton, a precision farming expert, it’s the role wearable computers will play in helping producers better managethe growing volumes of farm data.