One of the challenges of driving an electric car is finding a place to plug it in on a longer trip–even though the number of charging stations is growing, it’s still not as simple as pulling off at the nearest exit. There are a few apps out there that help with navigation on phones, or online, or via in-vehicle GPS. But the latest takes advantage of wearable computing to guide drivers to the nearest outlet.
Why make a Google Glass app, when the device isn’t exactly popular yet? SemaConnect, the charging station company that designed the app, says that driving is a perfect example of a situation where the technology could be truly useful.
“While the Glass is still in its early days, and has yet to gain large-scale traction, we think that with the right apps … the Glass will make more inroads into consumers’ lives and gain acceptance,” says Mahi Reddy, CEO of SemaConnect. “One big advantage to using the Google Glass is that the user need not take her hands off the wheel or her eyes off the road.”
With a voice command, the driver can ask for help finding the nearest charging station, and after arrival, the app can also take care of an automatic payment. At the moment, the app only includes SemaConnect-owned stations–an obvious drawback when there are few EV-charging stations out there to begin with. But the company says it can easily build up the system if customers respond.
Will they? Right now, with a $1,500 price tag and a whole lot of backlash, Google Glass is still a tough sell. While there might be some overlap between Silicon Valley Tesla drivers and Glass owners, Tesla also has its own network of ultra-fast “superchargers.” And some lawmakers are pushing to ban Glass while driving, since even though it’s hands-free, it could also be an obvious distraction if used the wrong way, perhaps launching a new class of Glasshole drivers.
Still, SemaConnect is hopeful that the app will take off and help ease the ever-present challenge of range anxiety, the fear that an electric car will get stranded somewhere. And the company believes that other tech may soon help drivers as well.
“Over time, we will see more capabilities added to wearable tech devices like the Glass that help drivers,” Reddy says. “Apps that can detect if a driver is sleepy, for instance, or apps that can provide critical information without the user having to take her eyes off the road. These technologies are becoming increasingly embedded into our lifestyles and have the potential to help us interact with the world in a more efficient and sustainable way.”
The SemaConnect app is under review now in the Android and Apple stores, and will be available to download soon through the MyGlass app.