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UCI commission to recommend Google Glass use on WorldTour

  • By Gnogt Troo
  • Published Apr. 1, 2014
Guillaume Van Keirsbulck was among the riders appearing to wear Google Glass-equipped optics on Sunday at Gent-Wevelgem. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

A technical commission enlisted to examine cycling’s equipment rules will make its first recommendations in a press conference scheduled Thursday in Aigle, Switzerland. The sport’s world governing body, the UCI, is expected to undertake major revisions to a rulebook often criticized for limiting technological advancement.

Sources tell VeloNews that the panel’s most notable recommendation will center on a new partnership between the UCI and tech giant Google.

“The equipment commission will address concerns over the outdated method of data and video capture in the biggest races,” one source said, on condition of anonymity due to a forthcoming official announcement from Google. “Google Glass technology will take the sport to the head of technological development in major professional sports. The possibilities for entertainment, sport science, and, yes, safety, are nearly limitless.”

According to multiple sources, the commission will recommend the allowance of Google Glass optics in UCI WorldTour races beginning with May’s Giro d’Italia. The glasses made a test appearance over the weekend at Gent-Wevelgem, where a number of riders wore them during the cobbled classic.

With its Glass product, which incorporates a small, Internet-enabled computer in a pair of lightweight eyeglasses, Google gives consumers the ability to capture and share photographs and video hands free, and complete a number of other commands. The move into cycling marks Google’s first major sports sponsorship as part of its Glass launch. The smart optics made a splash at the 2013 Emmy Awards when numerous show attendees tested Google’s newest product on the red carpet.

UCI president Brian Cookson, who sits on the commission, did not respond to a request for comment left in his Google Talk mailbox.

“We envision the day soon when a rider will take part in a live AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on Reddit while spinning out the tiresome early hours of a Tour de France stage,” said commission member Jan Anders Manson of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. “Also, with riders away from home for much of the racing season, the opportunity to check in with family and friends on Facebook, from the saddle, would mean they won’t have to miss out on the new flashmob meme Jimmy Fallon is sure to talk about on ‘The Tonight Show’ that night.”

When asked about the possibility of riding with the smart optics, veteran domestique Yaroslav Popovich welcomed the development.

“(Team director) Dirk Demol is always calling me back to the team car to watch videos of kittens on the YouTube,” Popovich said over Google Hangout. “With Google Glass, I can keep up on the ‘Cats Are People, Too’ channel without fetching bottles for Fabian [Cancellara]. He’s more of a dog guy. And if I can’t be at home with Mr. Jingles, I want to spend my days, and nights, watching silly kitties playing with feathers and yarn.”

A representative from Google declined to comment when contacted for this story.

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