Google Glass relaunched for the workplace
Image credit: Google
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has revealed a redesigned version of the wearable hardware, the “Enterprise Edition”, which is designed to be worn in the workplace to improve efficiency and help workers concentrate.
Google Glass, launched in 2012, was one of the company’s major flops. The smart glasses had a transparent digital display, and could be operated with voice commands or using a touchpad on the arm of the glasses. It was mounted with a camera to take photos and record video, and was compatible with existing Google applications such as Google Maps and Google Mail.
The $1,500 prototype was derided as visually unappealing and attracted considerable controversy for its privacy implications, with many companies and venues in the US banning Google Glass due to concerns about people being filmed without their knowledge. Its failure was followed with a long period of silence about the product.
Behind the scenes, however, Alphabet had found that the hardware was somewhat more practical in the workplace, finding valuable applications in healthcare and defence, where it could record information hands-free.
The focus shifted on redesigning the smart glasses for business, the result of this work being the “Enterprise Edition” glasses, or simply “Glass”.
Glass has been developed at X (formerly Google X), a secretive research and development facility founded by Google. X refers to its ambitious projects as “moonshots”; these include the Waymo self-driving car, Google Brain, and Project Loon, which aims to use balloons in the stratosphere to provide an aerial wireless network to the entire population of Earth.
According to X, the “Glass at Work” programme has involved Google partners – across logistics, manufacturing and healthcare – creating professional apps which use the wearable hardware.
In a blog post, project leader Jay Kothari announced that dozens of partners such as GE Aviation, Boeing and Volkswagen have found success using Glass in the workplace.
For instance, an app called Augmedix uses Glass to help doctors transcribe patient notes during interactions, allowing the doctors to focus on their patients. Other doctors and healthcare professionals have used Glass to record consultations and surgical procedures, as well as for hands-free communication in emergency medicine. Meanwhile, DHL employees are using Glass to receive real-time instructions, freeing their hands from paper instructions and increasing supply chain efficiency by 15 per cent.
According to X, the new Glass hardware is lighter and more comfortable for long periods of wear. They are tougher than the previous design, have a longer battery life, and can double as protective eyewear.
The off-putting “dorky” appearance of Glass is less likely to affect sales when the hardware remains within the workplace, while privacy concerns have been somewhat addressed with the addition of a red warning light to signal recording.
“Together we’re looking forward to seeing more businesses give their workers a way to work faster and in a more focused way, hands free,” said Kothari.