Google Glass Returns From The Grave With Enterprise Edition

While the history books are still being written, we may one day look back on Google Glass and determine that it was ahead of its time. That will depend on how the next few years play out, especially now that companies are making a major push into virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality hardware and experiences. Glass was one of the first to get there before Google changed directions and took aim at the enterprise market. Now nearly two years later, Glass is back.

Glass Mechanic
Image Source: Alphabet (X-company)

This newest version of Glass is dubbed "Enterprise Edition" and it is now available to the many business partners that Google has been working with over the past two years. This is not where Glass was originally headed, but like any good road trip, the destination can change on a whim.

"Workers in many fields, like manufacturing, logistics, field services, and healthcare find it useful to consult a wearable device for information and other resources while their hands are busy. That’s why we’ve spent the last two years working closely with a network of more than 30 expert partners to build customized software and business solutions for Glass for people in these fields," Google Glass project lead Jay Kothari stated in a blog post.

Glass Enterprise Edition
Image Source: Alphabet (X-company)

The newest version of Glass sports improvements to the overall design and hardware to make it more lightweight and more comfortable for long-term wear. It is also more powerful than where Google left off with Glass two years ago, and has longer battery life to boot. And for those concerned with privacy—a major point of criticism with the original Glass—this new version has a red LED that glows when the upgraded 8-megapixel camera is recording.

Google's pivot to enterprise is one that other companies may take note of when developing AR solutions. There are a wide range of applications for this sort of thing. For example, Kothari says GE's mechanics now use Glass with software from Upskill to view instructions with videos, animations, and images right in their line of sight so they don't have to stop their work to check their binders or computers to know what to do next.

"Since using Glass with Upskill, they estimate that they have not only reduced errors at key points in the assembly and overhaul of engines, but that they have improved their mechanics’ efficiency by between 8–12 percent," Kothari says.

Glass Doctor
Image Source: Alphabet (X-company)

It is also being used in the healthcare industry. Doctors at Dignity Health, for example, use Glass with a "remote scribe" application from Augmedix. Rather than spend time taking notes that are later dictated for transcriptionists, doctors can connect with patients with remote scribes taking notes in real time. All the doctor has to do is review the notes after and sign off on them. It is estimated that this approach has cut down on the time doctors at Dignity Health spend typing up patient notes and other administrative work by 33 percent.

Kothari says the Glass team is back at X, which is a semi-secret research and development facility founded by Google and operating as a subsidiary under parent company Alphabet. Going forward, the Glass team and its customers will be collaborating with the team from Google Cloud to see how far this project can go.