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Google Glass Allows Zhu to Provide Look Inside North Korea

August 20, 2014

Kenny Zhu

Behind The Curtain: Kenny Zhu (EE, 2012) used his Google Glass to capture video and photographs inside North Korea.

Looking at the world through Google Glass technology, alumnus Kenny Zhu provided rare glimpses into international political intrigue for a world-wide audience this spring as a Cable News Network (CNN) iReporter.

Zhu, a 2012 electrical engineering graduate, took video footage and photos in several cities across North Korea during a trip with Eric Tao, a Rose-Hulman senior computer science student. CNN notes that Zhu was only permitted to take the photos "as long as the photos reflected the positive side of North Korea."

So, Zhu’s report showcases images of the Mansudae Grand Monument and Workers' Party of Korea Memorial Sculpture, both located in Pyongyang; the DMZ between North and South Korea; and scenes of citizens in the cities of Myohyang-san and Kaesong.

"At first sight (people) were able to tell it was a photography device. They were suspicious at first. I let them play around with it and they seemed flattered, and they inquired no more," he says.

North Korea2

Workers' Party of Korea Memorial Sculpture

Fast Company magazine notes that while “CNN's crowd-sourced content program has had its fair share of whiffs,” the network hit a home run with Zhu’s iReports.

This was not the first trip with his Google Glass. Zhu frequently wears the high-tech device while working for a Shanghai, China-based semiconductor firm. He even wore the glass while assisting at a Rose-Hulman College Fair event in Shanghai this spring.

I always crave learning and exploring new things, therefore my curiosity drove me to sign up to purchase the glass right away,” he says. “It was an unprecedented concept, and I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation to purchase one in December of 2013 and received mine in January.”

Zhu continues, “With Google Glass, I can make phone calls, check and reply to e-mails and text messages, take photos, record videos, navigate, real-time translate, listen to music, google search, play games, and much more.”

This self-proclaimed “techie” also has a Fitbit, a wristband device that tracks a number of fitness workout statistics in real-time: steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, and active minutes throughout the day. He is also anxious to use Leap Motion, a computer hardware sensor device that supports hand and finger motions, and possibly Google Contact Lens—two innovations currently in development.

“There are a lot of cool gadgets in the high-tech environment. The competition is fierce,” Zhu says.