CHARLOTTE – A Lumberton-based nonprofit, 3000 Miles to a Cure, was selected as one of five winners out of 1,300 applications nationwide to receive a Google Glass grant.
The organization was granted $25,000 July 9 from Google’s Giving through Glass challenge to use Google Glass in upcoming races.
Google Glass is a hands-free eyewear technology that displays information in a smartphone-like format.
3000 Miles to a Cure began in October 2012 before Maria Parker, aunt of Huntersville resident Timothy Mulligan, won Race Across America (RAAM) in June 2013 to raise money and awareness for brain cancer.
3000 Miles to a Cure plans to use the grant money to develop an application to use with the glass and pay for software for designing purposes.
“The Google Glass app will (allow) the racer to communicate with stakeholders – any individual who is supporting the race or inspired by the race,” said Carly Redfearn, 3000 Miles to a Cure PR team member. “The racer can track nutrition, speed and weather.”
Mulligan said the app is designed to keep the biker and crew in constant communication throughout the race. Supporters can also experience RAAM through the eyes of the biker to get a better understanding of the 10-day journey.
Bikers and stakeholders can send videos of the journey and messages of encouragement to one another throughout the race.
Mulligan also said 3000 Miles is working with developers from a third party who is donating their time to help create the app.
“We want to make a connection between the racer who puts their life, energy and money on the line with the stakeholders,” Mulligan said. “We want to bring them closer to people at home. With Google Glass, the greater ability we (have) to communicate in an immediate way.”
Redfearn said the group applied for the Google grant in mid-May.
“Google asked us how the glass can uniquely address the challenges we face as an organization and how we can optimize the glass,” Redfearn said.
Google followed up with 3000 Miles in June through a video call asking the group how it plans to implement the technology to further its cause. The criteria focused on impact, innovation and feasibility of using the glass.
This past month, three representatives from 3000 Miles to a Cure – Mulligan, Parker and Parker’s daughter, Lucia – met with Google developers in San Francisco to learn how Google Glass works.
“They gave us training on how to use them and they gave us a pair to try on to make sure it fits,” Mulligan said. “We talked with developers as far as what their vision is for us.”
Since the group has returned from their trip to San Francisco, Parker has worn the Google Glass to get adjusted to its feel and what it does.
Parker plans to compete in the Texas Time Trials, an annual bicycle race for top endurance cyclists around the world, where she will wear the Google Glass to help 3000 Miles to a Cure understand how to use it in RAAM races and other events.
Although Parker’s sister and Mulligan’s mother, Jenny, passed away last month after battling brain cancer for almost two years, Mulligan said Google Grass serves as another opportunity to spread the word about brain cancer.
“Having Google Glass will encourage people to get more involved with 3000 Miles to a Cure by donating their time, money and support,” Redfearn said.