• Nick Walker

How Google Glass Grew Up

Remember Google Glass? It was the name coined for spectacles developed by Google’s (now Alphabet’s) X division. Looking at first sight like a cheap pair of non-prescription reading glasses, Glass functioned as a kind of miniature head-up display. Over part of the right-hand lens was a small rectangular block of glass which functioned as a miniature computer monitor. Inside the right-hand support (the part that goes over your ear) Google had packed memory, a processor, a camera, speaker and microphone, Bluetooth and wifi antennas, an accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and a battery. So, when you put on your spectacles you were, in fact, accessing a tiny wearable computer.

There were just two problems with Glass. The first is that it made you look like an idiot. The second problem was the killer one: Glass made everyone around you feel uneasy. They thought the technology was creepy, intrusive and privacy-destroying. Wearers were known as “Glassholes”.

Google admitted defeat in 2015, and I thought that was the end of something that seemed like a good idea but with a bad implementation.

Well, now Google has a new version of the device; Glass Enterprise Edition 2, with a new look, a faster processor, and a brighter display, and it’s gaining traction in the workplace. Right now Google is focusing on the manufacturing, healthcare, logistics, food service, and field service industries, where Google has identified three main applications.

The first is as an aid to remind employees of standard operating procedures, meaning the proper way to assemble a product or package it up for shipment.

The second is an “I see what you see” scenario where a supervisor or an expert can look in on a person’s work and give direction or advice.

The third is an inspection use case where Glass shoots video and records audio notes during the wearer’s inspection of a machine or property.

It seems like Glass has found it’s place, at least for the moment, by using Glass;

  • DHL estimates that they have increased supply chain efficiency by 15%

  • Dignity Health claim to have reduced the time they spend typing and doing other administrative work from 33 % to 10%, whilst the time spent interacting with patients doubled

  • Machinery time at AGCO reduced by 25 percent, and inspection times by 30 percent

  • GE saw improved mechanics’ efficiency by 8–12%

Nobody’s calling users “Glassholes” any more.