Tyrone involved in Google Glass research project through Penn State

Nathan Hormell


Tyrone student Amber Chamberlin tries out the Tyrone Science Department’s pair of Google Glasses.

By Amber Chamberlin, Tyrone Area High School

Update: Google has officially discontinued sales of Google Glass; according to the company, the product is still in development and may be re-released in the future.

Imagine: on your next trip to the grocery store, you look at a bag of Cheetos. Its nutritional information flashes in front of your eyes before you even pick up the bag. You immediately change your mind and head toward better options in the fresh produce aisle.

Sound like science fiction? Not to Tyrone Area High School senior Megan Koegler and the researchers at the Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST) program at Penn State University.

This summer, thanks to a partnership between Tyrone and Penn State, Koegler worked with one of the most talked-about technologies of the past several years, Google Glass. Her project, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation,  aimed to help people make better eating decisions and more easily measure their daily caloric intake.

Google Glass is one of the most recognizable examples of the new trend of wearable technologies. It looks like a pair of traditional glasses, but is equipped with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD) that projects a visual display on the lens of the glasses. Like a smartphone, Google Glass wearers can communicate with the device through voice commands. Additionally, it can be used to take pictures, record videos, and play games.

The hope is that you could wear the Glass in the grocery store and it would tell you the caloric intake of a serving of a product just by looking at it.”

— Mike Funcelli, chemistry teacher

Google began selling Google Glass to qualified “Glass Explorers” in April 2013. It became available to the public in May 2014 for $1500 a pair.

Koegler’s first task was to learn how to wear and control Google Glass while doing everyday activities like walking and riding a bike. She then began collecting data for the project by taking pictures of the food she ate every day and uploading the photos to a computer.

From there, Koegler labeled the food and provided the number of calories in each specific food item. She used this data to “train” the glasses to recognize the food and its associated caloric content.

“The hope is that you could wear the glass in the grocery store and it would tell you the caloric intake of a serving of a product just by looking at it,” said Tyrone chemistry teacher Mike Funicelli, who is also involved in the research project.

Koegler said she was honored to be able to participate in the project. “My fellowship helped solidify my choice to major in biomedical engineering in college,” she added.

As part of the grant, Tyrone’s science department also received a pair of Google Glass on loan from Penn State. Funnicelli plans to use the Glass to assist Penn State’s research by having his students log physical exercises. The data will then be used to “teach” the device to recognize activities and the amount of calories each burns. Funicelli hopes that data can be used to help people live a healthier lifestyle.