CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When Dylan Watson placed his Google Glass on his face and said "hello" on Thursday afternoon at the state Capitol, some people in his online chat room heard "hola" while others heard "bonjour."
That's because Watson, a computer science major at Marshall University, has developed a language translation application for Google Glass -- cutting edge technology that acts as a wearable computer, similar to eyeglasses -- that translates words on command.
Watson, who was among dozens of student presenters at Undergraduate Research Day in Charleston, came up with the idea when he ran into language barriers while reaching out to experts around the world for his research.
Now, he uses the Wearable Integrated Translator (WIT) app he developed, which detects pauses in his speech, translates to corresponding languages detected on the other end of the server and activates upon a voice command like, "Okay Glass, start translating."
"As a society we're becoming more inter-globally connected, but the problem is we can't communicate with each other very well because you either have to have translators -- which are expensive -- or you have to be able to speak another language, which takes years to speak [fluently]," Watson said. "The idea is to break down that communication barrier more affordably and effectively."
This year's annual Undergraduate Research Day featured 80 projects from 13 colleges across West Virginia. The Higher Education Policy Commission and the state Department of Education and the Arts hosts the event each year with the intent of reminding the Legislature of the value found in instate students' work.
One of those students was Judith Urbanic -- a psychology and biology major at Glenville State College who was attracting a crowd with her quirky abstract title, "How to tell if your honey bee is depressed."
For the past two years, Urbanic, a Calhoun County resident, has been studying how and if bees respond to loss by monitoring their behaviors after giving them extra sweet water and then replacing it with plain water.
"What we found was that basically they get upset -- they get frustrated. Which is great because yet again it shows that bees are similar to humans," she said. "People have been loving it. They're like, 'no way.'"
West Virginia University's Mackenzie Barr was especially proud of her research because it was one of the few projects on Thursday that was a human-based study.