Edgecombe County, N.C.
For most, Google Glass is a gadget, a novelty of the computer age that allows wearers to access a computer within their field of vision.
Only a limited number of Google Glasses have been made available. Most of those with access are signed up as "Explorers," with plans to develop software applications for the wearable computer to run.
Among those in the vanguard is firefighter Patrick Jackson in Rocky Mount. Jackson, an engineer with the Rocky Mount Fire Department is putting the odd-looking contraption to work in hopes of speeding emergency response.
"I'll wear it. I don't wear it much out in public," he said. "It definitely makes you look a little different."
A few years ago, Jackson wrote an app to relay information from dispatchers to a firefighter's smart phone or tablet. "A lot of times, the notifications come in before the radio dispatch," he said.
He's been tapped to adapt his app for Google Glass.
The tiny screen of the Google Glass sits in front of the eye of the wearer. There Jackson can see a map, the type of emergency and an address.
He has developed one feature that uses GPS to guide firefighters to the nearest hydrant.
"It just appears there. I can glance at it and get the information I need in a matter of seconds," he said.
When first responders arrive on the scene, Jackson pointed out that they could use the Glass video-recording function to help gather clues for an investigation.
"I'm still in the testing and exploring phase, but I've found it useful so far," he said.
Jackson hopes his work will result in a tool he can sell to other fire departments across the country.