Google Glass' initial release was a flop – consumers were wary of covert video recordings, early adopters were pegged as "glassholes," and Google was left wondering what had happened to such a great idea.
But Google Glass is back, again, and it's geared specifically for business. The new version, Google Glass Enterprise 2, features 32GB of storage, blink and wink sensors, and 8MP camera. The companies that have adopted it (Xperteye, Augmedix, Hodei, SwyMed, Upskill, VMware, etc.) report that its use has cut production times by streamlining logistics using augmented reality. But is Glass Enterprise Edition good for your business? It's a definite possibility.
The Enterprise Edition 2 is built on the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 platform with an Android-based operating system. It contains a multicore CPU and a new artificial intelligence engine. Google partnered with Smith Optics to make frames that fit in various work environments. There's also improved cameras and now a USB-C port for faster charging.
Businesses using this technology are connected to Glass Enterprise Edition 2 through partners of Google. While Google does provide an option to work out and customize the product based on your business, Google partners like Upskill and Streye provide some of the software that makes it useful. This assessment of Glass is based on Streye's Glass Enterprise option for businesses and consumers. [Read related story: Should Your Business Embrace Wearable Technology?]
One of the biggest benefits to Glass Enterprise Edition 2 is the ability for manufacturers to integrate instructions for their work processes in real time. In the past, highly skilled technicians had to refer to instructions and input data using laptops, tablets or desktops separate from where they were working. This made certain processes inefficient and more time-consuming than necessary because a worker constantly had to refer back and forth between instructions and their actual project. Glass Enterprise Edition 2 offers workers instructions just above their natural line of sight. This can be useful for any type of training.
Other capabilities include sending and adjusting instructions in real time, live streaming to troubleshoot issues with projects, and sending pictures of equipment or data to other members of the team. Wired reported that General Electric has experienced a 46% decrease in production time at its warehouses that use Glass Enterprise 2.
That sounds compelling, but researchers at the University of Pisa recently found that people with AR headsets were less accurate than those who used the naked eye. You can't just look at the screen, you need the interplay of physical eyesight with the help of the screen.
Glass Enterprise Edition 2's design makes integrating it into various levels of production practical. It is dust and water resistant. For manufacturers, the Glass can function as safety glasses that are already required. The Verge reported that the Glass Pod can be removed and applied to any lenses that are compatible with Google Glass. In addition to manufacturing, the lightweight model (0.10 ounces) can be applied to industries such as healthcare and logistics.
Jay Kothari, project lead for Glass, said that healthcare professionals are using it to record and live stream patient visits. The footage is directly sent to a scribe who transcribes the meeting and adds notes for the doctor's files. According to Kothari, this lowered the amount of time doctors spent on administrative tasks such as notetaking and transcription by almost 25%.
These kinds of features could translate well to other areas of business, where a lot of time is lost documenting and reviewing what happens in meetings. With Glass Enterprise Edition 2, business professionals could proceed with operations knowing that if they need to refer to a point made in a meeting, they can easily access a recording or screenshot of it.
Glass Enterprise Edition 2, like its predecessor, can be controlled by voice commands or by swiping the side of the frame. It features three beam-forming microphones and a multi-touch gesture touchpad. It also includes an on-head detection sensor and an eye-on screen sensor to help save battery. This lets users keep both their hands engaged with their active project. Whether this feature would translate well to an office environment is up for debate. While voice commands offer a convenient way to progress to a different program, touch assistance is a good option when voice commands are unnecessary.
To set up Glass Enterprise Edition 2 for your business, you must speak directly with either Google or one of its software developers, such as Upskill. But it costs $999 per set. That's down significantly since the $1,500 Explorer Edition that came out years ago.
Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 appears to be having a strong impact on manufacturing, healthcare and logistics. Despite the blunder that was Google Glass, Glass Enterprise Edition 2 appears to be proving its worth as a tool for workers to make their jobs more efficient and easier. There are competitors in the field now, including Microsoft, Vuzix and Epson. Google's version is expensive, but if it makes sense for your business, it may be worth the investment.