Thad Starner got his first computer in 1982 -- long before PCs hit the mainstream.
He began wearing his own customized computer device during graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1993.
And today the York native is working with a team at Google on augmented reality glasses for Project Glass.
Google released details last month about Project Glass, one of the company's secretive initiatives being worked on in the Google X laboratory near its home base in Mountain View, Calif.
The video released by Google displays the functionality of the glasses through the eyes of someone wearing them.
The wearer is able to eat breakfast while responding to a request to meet up, snap pictures, save time by receiving a notification that the subway is closed, and easily follow directions to his destination while wearing the glasses.
Photos on Google show people wearing what look like a pair of eyeglasses minus the lenses, with a thicker band resembling a USB-drive on the right side of the device stretching slightly into the field of vision.
Starner is no stranger to wearable computers, as he first donned one in 1993 during his graduate courses at the MIT.
That computer had goggles with an attached monitor and small keyboard and mouse, all powered by a CPU box with local memory and hard disk.
Starner has been sporting a wearable computer ever since, but the one he wears today is much simpler and faster.
"I have everything in my life on my computer; a lot of people have stuff on cell phones and desktops, but I have everything on my wearable," he said.
His background: The customized device allows Starner to take notes while he works, snap pictures on the go, and multitask effortlessly.
Starner graduated from Dallastown Area High School in 1987 and went on to graduate from MIT with a bachelor's degree in brain and cognitive science and a bachelor's degree in computer science, a master's degree in media arts and science, and a Ph.D. in media arts and sciences from the MIT media laboratory.
His doctoral work, titled "Wearable Computing and Contextual Awareness," dealt with pattern recognition and how wearable computing can be used for purposes such as recognizing hand motions used in sign language.
"This was before Wi-Fi or Bluetooth," Starner said. "Our efforts at MIT directly impacted Bluetooth standards."
He was part of a group that showed a device with an mp3 player to Sony, but Sony officials were not interested because they said it would encourage piracy.
"Almost everything came from Apple. We never expected that Apple would be the ones to break through these sort of monopolies and make wearable computers a reality," said Starner, referring to devices such as iPods and iPhones.
Starner met Larry Page and Sergey Brin, cofounders of Google, in 1998, and they talked about how cool it would be to have a computer in your eyeball. Later, Page offered him a job with Google.
His parents, Rita and Roy Richard Starner Jr., live in York Township.
Help from Mom: "When he was 12 he wanted a computer, and his father and I decided that if he wanted a computer he would have to pay for it. So he had a yard sale and sold all of his toys to get a computer," said Rita Starner.
He used his mother as his subject when he practiced his software building skills growing up.
"I am illiterate when it comes to the computer and all that stuff, and he used to say, 'Mom come back and try to crash this,' so then he would leave, and being computer illiterate I would indeed crash it and he'd say, 'OK I need to do better,'" Rita Starner explained.
Starner splits his time between Google and being a faculty member at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, where he lives with his wife.
-- Reach Chelsea Shank at 505-5432 or firstname.lastname@example.org.