- Associated Press - Thursday, February 27, 2014

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - Patrick Jackson said he felt like the boy who got a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory when he won a chance to get Google Glass.

“I had to go to New York City to a Google building there and pick it up,” said Jackson, a firefighter and software engineer. “It was very exciting.”

Google Glass is a wearable computer with a head-mounted display that’s being developed by Google.

Out of 150,000 applications recently submitted in the #ifihadglass competition on Google Plus, Jackson was one of 8,000 people chosen to buy Google Glass.

He paid for the product and his trip to New York with $2,000 that he raised through an Indiegogo campaign.

In his contest application, Jackson said he would use Google Glass to make firefighters’ jobs “safer and more effective.”

He wrote: “Mission critical information could be viewed quickly while never taking eyes off of the incident. Pictures and video could be recorded to add in fire investigation and incident critics. Personnel could stream realtime video to hangouts for an overview of the incident - view multiple sides from one location. Occupancy hazards could be in your view instantly instead of flipping through notebooks..”

In an interview, Jackson said his goal is to make critical information, including floor plans and other building information, available to firefighters hands free and as quickly as possible.

Google Glass is still in its Explorer program phase where the company has thousands of beta testers using Glass.

Patrick is one of them,” Anna Richardson White, a spokeswoman for Google Glass, said of the beta testers. “The idea is to get feedback, inspiration and hear their concerns so we can make the product the best it can be before a wider consumer launch.”

She said that the program wants to get Glass in the hands of a variety of people.

Musicians, teachers, parents and doctors, in addition to firefighters, were among the 8,000 people initially invited to get the product.

“We wanted to find a diverse group of people with different interests, experiences, and professions so we could see how Glass would work in a variety of situations,” Richardson White said. “Patrick and his work in the fire service were a great example of a unique use case which made his application extremely interesting to us.”

Jackson, 34, currently lives in Wake Forest with his wife, Cherry, a teacher for the Wake County school system, and their children, Lillian, 5, and Fairbanks, 3. But he grew up in Pfafftown and is a graduate of North Forsyth High School.

Jackson was always into computers in his early years, doing some basic programming and taking college-level courses in high school.

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