West Nyack, NY - Google Glass To Open Up New Vistas For Orthodox Community With Jewish Apps

Published on: July 30th, 2013 at 05:54 PM

West Nyack, NY - With technology enthusiasts eagerly awaiting the release of Google Glass, Google's highly anticipated wearable device that is a cross between a pair of glasses and a computer, one software developer is already hard at work creating Jewish apps for the new device.

Rusty Brick, the developer of numerous apps geared to the Jewish community for both the iPhone and Android platforms, including Siddur, Tehillim, Tanach, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch apps and more, is hard at work creating a Glass app for the Jewish community, tentatively titled JewGlass.

The new app will likely include a host of functions including directions to the nearest shul or restaurant, Shabbos z'manim and day to day notifications including the daf, daily Tehillim, davening time reminders and other davening particulars including whether or not Tachanun or Hallel are said. The app, which has been under development for approximately two weeks and should be completed shortly, may also incorporate Hebrew translation capabilities.

According to Barry Schwartz, CEO of Rusty Brick, the Rockland County based software developer is just one of the eight to ten thousand applicants who was given the opportunity to test drive the new platform when Google launched its Explorer program for one week in February 2013. Applicants were required to post a message of fifty words or less, explaining how they would use the new technology, and those who were picked by Google to receive the device had to attend a Google Glass event in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles, where they were able to pick up a developer version of the hardware for $1,500.

"I got my approval on March 27th and the hardware came in on July 12th, right before Tisha B'Av," Schwartz told VIN News. "I asked my rabbi if I was able to pick it up during the nine days and he told me that because it was for business purposes I was able to."

Rusty Brick put out its first Glass app about three days. Schwartz describes it as a basic app that pushes stories from the internet marketing news site, Marketing Land, to the wearer's Glass timeline.

Schwartz says that the developers at Rusty Brick have been enjoying toying with the new hardware, but that he himself is the one who takes it home at night.

"I get funny looks when I use it in Shul," said Schwartz, who had loaded a full siddur onto Glass. "Then again, it was the same way when I started davening on my iPhone years ago."

Schwartz says he does not expect to put a full siddur onto Glass.

"You have to look up to the right the whole time and it would strain your eyes," reported Schwartz. "It's great for snippets of things, like bentshing and asher yatzar, but not for a whole davening."

Rusty Brick is currently in the process of determining which of its current apps are best suited to the new platform, by loading them onto the device and seeing how well they work.

"Glass works differently than a smartphone. We have to decide which are the most logical ones for this product," explained Schwartz.

Among the potential apps being contemplated are an app that would be instrumental for boys learning their Bar Mitzvah parsha.

"It would overlay the trup on top of the words," said the 33 year old father of two. "There are so many practical applications for Glass."

Glass is charged via USB and Schwartz reports that battery life can be spotty.

"It can be anywhere from a few hours to a full day," reported Schwartz. "If you are doing a lot of videos, the battery can run down in just a few hours."

As a caveat of the Explorer program, apps developed during the test phase will be available free to users, so JewGlass will be offered at no charge to users. There is currently no release date set for Google Glass and prices for the device are as yet unknown.

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