Social media pioneer and Veterans United Network’s chief storyteller Sarah Hill is forging another new path — and taking America’s veterans along for the ride.
Sarah was selected as one of the first people in the country to get early access to a Google Glass headset, a revolutionary form of augmented reality gear from the tech giant. She plans to incorporate the headset into the “Veterans Virtual Tours” experience, which allows aging and terminally ill veterans to visit their national memorials via Google+ Hangouts. The tours are a partnership between Veterans United and Virtual Photo Walks.
“Who deserves this incredible technology more than our living pieces of history?” said Sarah, a 12-time Emmy Award winning journalist who’s also the 38th most-followed person in the world on Google+. “Google Glass will put these national memorials in our veterans’ direct field of vision. It’ll be like they can reach out and touch them.”
This emerging technology will boost access to these unique memorial tours for veterans with vision limitations and other disabilities. The nation loses a World War II veteran every 90 seconds, and many lack the means or mobility to travel to Washington, D.C., Pearl Harbor and other locales to view the monuments erected in their honor.
The Project Glass team at Google launched a nationwide contest in February to select a group of “explorers” who would get a shot at using the product before retail sales start, which is likely by year’s end. Using Twitter or Google+, prospective users had just 50 words to explain how they would use Google Glass. They could incorporate a short video or a handful of photos. Responses had to include the #ifihadglass hashtag.
Sarah’s entry included a link to a brief-yet-powerful video overview of the Veterans Virtual Tours program.
“It’s an incredible privilege to share this experience and be there as the memories wash over them,” Sarah said. “I’m so thankful that Google and Project Glass share our vision for how technology can give back to those who gave so much.”
If you or a veteran you know may be interested in taking a virtual tour, please submit an application with Virtual Photo Walks. There is no cost, and tour organizers bring the equipment and technology to the veteran. Top priority is given to World War II veterans and terminally ill veterans of all wars.
Here’s a quick thank-you video from Sarah:
Chris Birk is executive editor of Veterans United Network. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.