Fidelity Experimenting With Google Glassware App for Investors

Fidelity Investments is studying ways Google Glass could help its customers check and buy stocks and get other information on their investments.

Google Glass

Google Glass isn't slated to hit the consumer market in the United States until late 2013, but companies such as Fidelity Investments are wasting no time experimenting with possible uses of Glass by their customers.

Fidelity has recently been developing a prototype Glassware app it calls "Fidelity Market Monitor for Glass," which could allow users to someday check closing stock prices, make stock purchases, retrieve investor information and more using the power of Google's eyewear-mounted computer devices. Fidelity unveiled the prototype Glassware in an Aug. 12 announcement, which includes a YouTube video that displays some of the potential uses of such an app.

Hadley Stern, vice president of Fidelity Labs, whose team built the app, told eWEEK that it is a project of Fidelity Labs, which is part of the Fidelity Center for Applied Technology that focuses on innovation inside the financial services company.

"It started a few months ago," said Stern. "We're very involved from the applied research end. A peer was at a seminar and met some folks from Google and that's how this came about," as ideas for a Glass app were formed and brought to life.

For now, Fidelity hopes to get feedback from prospective users about the prototype Glassware app and to continue its experiments about how it could be used, how it could be secured and how it can be useful for customers, said Stern.

The Fidelity video, which Stern calls an "aspirational video," portrays a user logging into the app on Glass using voice recognition, then seeking stock quotes using verbal commands and built-in menus. The video also shows a user taking a photo of a corporate logo, in this case a Google logo, and then asking the app to provide stock quotes based on the logo in the captured image.

The potential future of such an app being released for users depends on many factors, he said, including the actual availability of Glass to consumers as well as if Google's Glass APIs will remain stable or will morph or change in the future.

"Investors in general trade on what they know and are constantly doing research," said Stern. The experimental Glass app being developed by Fidelity pushes that idea further, by delivering relevant information to the timelines of Glass users as markets close with summaries of the market activity, he said.

"One of the cool things Google is doing is that they're co-developing [Glass] with the world in a sense," he said. "It's a little different for us, too, working with Glass."

Even if Glass is released to consumers by late this year, the Fidelity Glassware will likely not be ready to go, according to Stern. "I think it's still a ways away. Really what we are focused on is what we are working on right now," adding features and getting useful feedback from potential users.

Fidelity as a company has long been interested in applying innovative technologies throughout its business, said Stern, including establishing the first toll-free 800 number for mutual funds transactions and being involved in early social media activities.