Google Glass is coming back, but not for everyone

Thadeus Edward Tencza 19 July 2017

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Google is going for a second attempt at wearable technology with Glass Enterprise Edition.

Google Glass was meant to be a consumer-friendly device that could be used to improve the tasks of everyday life. You could record video, get directions and receive notifications all through the wearable display.

Seems like a good idea, right? Unfortunately, the execution was not the best, with privacy concerns surrounding the camera, a US$1,500 price tag and a design that many described as just "plain ugly". Original production came to a halt in January 2015 after extensive criticism.

However, on Tuesday this week, Google’s parent company Alphabet decided to revive the Google Glass product under the company’s experimental department "X". The wearable tech is coming back, but for a different market.

Instead of the average consumer, the new Glass is being focused for use in primarily professional situations, being tested quietly at companies including DHL, AGCO and Sutter Health. Apparently, the results from these trials are positive.

“Employees are now working smarter, faster and safer because they have the information they need right in their line of sight,” said Peggy Gulick, director of business process improvement at AGCO.

During the trials, AGCO workers were able to easily access checklists, send photos and view instruction manuals, which greatly increased their efficiency.

Glass project lead Jay Kothari claimed that Glass “reduced machinery production time by 25% and inspection times by 30%”. Glass was also used as a more efficient training device, cutting training time from 10 days to just 3.

DHL employees were able to receive real time instructions, which in turn increased production speed. The shipping company estimated that it increased supply chain efficiency by 15%.

Google seems to have realised that it was originally targeting the wrong market, now transitioning from consumers to enterprises. The Glass product also now appears to be concentrating on more practical features rather than aesthetics.

Prices have not yet been set, but AGCO told Wired that it was paying between US$1,300 and US$1,500 (approximately AUD$1,640 to AUD$1,892) per unit.

The new model is set to have better battery power, a faster processor, better wireless networking and an 8MP camera. It's also going to be lighter and will include functionality for prescription glasses.

However, Alphabet has not been very detailed about the new wearable tech. This raises questions about the integration process and how many companies will actually be able to use Glass efficiently.

Google's new wearable tech comes at a time with augmented reality on the rise. According to the research firm for IDC (International Data corporation) virtual/augmented reality is set to make gross earnings of US$162 billion by 2020.


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