After two years in hiding, the Google Glass Program resurfaced as Glass Enterprise Edition. Industrial and enterprise customers can now apply for access to Glass hardware and custom software packages to suit the needs of their businesses.
It's exciting to talk about immersive technology through the lens of entertainment, but it can also be a productivity tool--and in fact, industrial and other business applications are where the technology is gaming quite a bit of momentum. Industrial customers are especially interested in AR technology because it can help free the hands of workers while simultaneously delivering detailed instructions, which can boost productivity and improve the worker safety.
ODG is a player in enterprise-level wearables, but Alphabet (Google and X's parent company) wants a piece of action, and it put the folks at X in control of making that happen with the Glass Enterprise Edition, which is available now.
The new version of Glass features design changes over the original that reduce the weight and improve the comfort of the device, and it includes a larger battery so you can use it for longer. X said the new version of Glass also features a more powerful processor, but the company declined to comment about the component specifications.
As you may recall, a little more than five years ago, Google's executives started wearing the Google Glass Explorer Edition in public. In the following three years, Glass went from the Next Big Thing to a device that the public despised. Early Glass adopters, dubbed “Explorers,” (or "Glassholes" by detractors) were the subject of public backlash stemmed from privacy (and piracy) concerns about Glass’s video and audio recording capability. In January 2015, Google stopped selling the Glass Explorer Edition (for the second time), but the idea never completely went away. And now it's been reborn for industrial use cases.
During the two-year long Glass Explorer program, Google discovered that enterprise customers were taking advantage of Glass to help improve worker efficiency, reduce instances of human error, and help increase safety in industrial environments. The general public may not have accepted Google Glass, but the enterprise segment embraced the device with open arms.
For the last two years, Alphabet’s X company has worked with more than 30 partners to build a collection of applications and conceive of specialized business use cases for Glass. X ran a selective pilot program that allowed more than 50 businesses from a range of industries, including manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare, to experiment with Glass and determine how the device can help them improve worker safety and efficiency. Now, X is ready to expand the program to a wider range of customers.
The Glass enterprise pilot program proved the value of the Glass concept. The companies that took part in the pilot reported significant improvements in worker effectiveness. AGCO, an agricultural machinery manufacturer, said that it saw a 25% improvement in production time and a 30% improvement in inspection time after it rolled out Glass hardware to its assembly line workers. DHL also reported significant efficiency improvements after it equipped order pickers with Glass hardware to give them visual instruction about which cart to place packages in. DHL estimated that Glass improved order picker efficiency by as much as 15%.
Glass is also improving the lives of healthcare professionals—specifically doctors. Dignity Health equipped its doctors with Glass headsets to help improve patient care. The company said its doctors used to spend up to 33% of their day writing notes, but with Glass, they can simply record conversations and let software transcribe them. The doctors at Dignity Health now spend less than 10% of their day taking notes, and twice as much time in direct contact with patients.
X didn’t reveal the price of the Glass Enterprise Edition. Companies that are interested in using Glass must contact Glass Partners to build out a custom solution for their specific use case. X said the cost varies based on the level of software customization and training that each customer requires.