Is Google Glass really ready for the enterprise?

Is Google Glass really ready for the enterprise?

Google Glass Enterprise Edition is now available to businesses, but does it really work as a collaboration and productivity tool?

DHL employees use Glass to move inventory around the warehouse faster

DHL employees use Glass to move inventory around the warehouse faster

For example, emergency room doctors at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston piloted Glass to connect with information about patients without having to shift attention away from the person.

Doctors at Dignity Health have been using Glass with an application from Augmedix called "a remote scribe" that allows them to continue looking at patients, listening as they talk, and asking questions, while note taking work is performed in the background.

Glass can also be used to collaborate with co-workers by allowing others to see what you're seeing through a live video stream. That, in theory, enables troubleshooting assistance in real-time.

More than 50 businesses, including AGCO, DHL, Dignity Health, NSF International, Sutter Health,The Boeing Company and Volkswagen, have been using Glass "to complete their work faster and more easily than before," Kothari wrote in the blog, calling it a "new chapter" for the device.

Glass Enterprise Edition competes with other head-mounted displays, such as will Microsoft's HoloLens, which is also being marketed as a wearable for "developers and business customers."

Staffing firm Robert Half Technology polled 2,300 CIOs last year on wearables and found 81 per cent believed they would eventually find an enterprise use.

"Whether the wearable is Google Glass or the Apple Watch or Samsung's VR display or a FitBit... there are various platforms," said Jim Johnson, vice president at technology at Robert Half Technology, "so the challenge is how to support that [via your IT organisation]. But the value is that you can create a more engaged workforce

According to the survey, 37 per cent of the CIOs respondents believe wearables will be enabled for business use in three to five years; 24 per cent said it will take five or more years; and five per cent expected to see them in one to two years. Only 16 per cent believed wearables would not become part of a corporate IT strategy.

"I'm trying to put it into the context of your typical sales organisation or staffing organisation. And I don't know at this point if it's there," Johnson said.

"We're trying to collaborate with tools like Skype for business and GoToMeeting. And, it is another level of that, so instead of just me trying to share a desktop or document with someone I could be holding it up in front of me and people could be seeing what I'm seeing or coaching me through documentation."

From a development perspective, Johnson said he can see a head-mounted display's value because the wearer could draw a mockup on paper, and everyone in the virtual meeting could immediately see it.

Wearables like Google Glass, however, also present a risk because they can track and record even more sensitive information than other mobile device applications, including what you're doing and seeing in real time.

Eyefluence CEO Jim Marggraff sports a modified version of Google Glass that includes his company's eye-tracking technology.
Eyefluence CEO Jim Marggraff sports a modified version of Google Glass that includes his company's eye-tracking technology.

"There are data privacy issues to consider here," Johnson said. "You don't need that coming back at you that you're collecting employee sensitive data."

Earlier this year, Forrester released a research paper on wearables that predicted a new level of maturity in the enterprise wearable arena this year, with fewer pilots and more deployments for smart glasses, virtual reality (VR), health monitors, and in other categories.

In 2015, 22.8 million US workers held jobs that could benefit from smart glasses, according to Forrester.

"Not all of these professionals will adopt wearables, but their companies have every incentive to deploy wearable technologies and business processes that create positive financial and/or customer service results for customers," Forrester said.

Today, 62 per cent of telecommunications decision-makers identify wearables as a critical, high, or moderate priority for their organisations, up from 52 per cent in 2014, the report said.

"While early 2017 will still see largely trial and pilot-based implementations, it's not hard to find real organisations creating value with wearables today," the Forrester report said. "And mid-2017 will see maturation and wider deployment in some sectors."

From now through 2019, field technicians will start to adopt smart glasses at a fast clip, Forrester predicted, and by 2025 eight per cent of the U.S. workforce will use smart glasses across 264 different job roles.

Scientists at the NASA, for example, are using Microsoft's HoloLens to explore Mars: With mixed reality, they can use Mars Rover data to reconstruct the Martian surface in detail.

"One NASA scientist told Forrester that he learned more in one week using HoloLens than he did in six months using two-dimensional images; as a geologist, he needed to understand the relationships between rocks and terrain," the report said.

Smart glasses can also improve patient outcomes, according to Forrester. Software platform Pristine delivers telemedicine apps for smart glasses like Google Glass Enterprise Edition and Vuzix M100 ($999).

"Doctors use the smart glasses and the Pristine application to train medical residents and consult with other medical specialists in real-time during surgery. This telemedicine solution helps doctors reach patients in rural or otherwise hard-to-reach locations, too," Forrester said.

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