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MSUM student gets help from school to test Google Glas

Minnesota State University Moorhead freshman Jesus Garcia Garcia is a beta tester for Google Glass. David Samson / The Forum

MOORHEAD, Minn. - Like many adventurers before him, Google Glass Explorer Jesus Garcia Garcia is bringing fresh eyes to the new territory he's charting.

The Minnesota State University Moorhead freshman applied about three months ago to the Explorer beta testing program and got his Google Glass three days ago after MSUM agreed to help him out by footing the $1,500 price tag.

Google Glass is a wearable computer with a head-mounted optical display.

Garcia is not sure what made Google choose him over others nationwide who applied, but thinks it may have something to do with his ethnicity.

"I'm Hispanic," he said. "I don't think many Hispanics have gotten their hands on them."

Garcia also brings a perspective to the life of an American college student that not many others share.

The undocumented immigrant came to the U.S. from Mexico City with his parents as an 8-year-old and grew up in Bloomington.

He's in school as part of the deferred action program, which allows him to avoid deportation while he pursues his pre-med studies and U.S. citizenship.

Garcia's situation isn't just a rare arrangement for the early-adopter, high-technology world, which appears to be predominantly white and professional.

It's also a rare experience for an undocumented immigrant, he said.

"Many Hispanics don't go to school," he said. "Either you work or you don't eat."

Garcia said his father pushed him to attend college, and also encouraged him to tackle a double major - one in biochemistry and one in psychology.

He plans to use Google Glass to conduct a yet-to-be-designed psychology experiment on how well it works under certain conditions, and how much it actually helps him in daily life.

Google Glass is already giving him quite a window on human psychology in just the first few days. "People go insane for technology," he said, "asking, 'Please, please, please can I try them?' "

Initial reactions to Google Glass have also been interesting for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's Jim Manney, a new Google Glass beta tester and the head of the Video Department. Like Garcia, Manney is conscious of not being perceived as a "glasshole," or someone who rolls video on someone without his or her consent.

"I don't want to make anyone anxious. I think society as a whole is getting more guarded," Manney said.

Manney is working on a video project to take readers and viewers to jobs, places and experiences they'll likely never have the chance to see for themselves.

He's already put the Google Glass on a player for the Fargo Force, to provide a goalie-eye view of the game.

"We wanted to put you in places you've never been before. They'll get a feel for what it's like to have pucks shot at them," he said.

The experience is different than the one a traditional, off-the-shoulder video camera or even a helmet-mounted mini-camera gives viewers, he said.

"With a camera, you're always conscious of where you're pointing the camera," he said, a self-consciousness that can be a problem whether you're the person taking the video or the subject.

As for Garcia, he's already assured his classmates and professors he'll use Google Glass only with their consent.

"I won't be using it during exams," he said.