Google Glass remains a hot topic among wearables, generating interest, comedy spoofs and plenty of discussion.
Google is diving deeper into the business realm as it announced the first round of its Glass at Work Certified Partners. The list includes APX Labs, Augmedix, CrowdOptic, GuidiGO and Wearable Intelligence. These Glass Certified Partners are authorized by Google to deliver enterprise solutions for Glass, exploring the possibilities of smart glass technology for business. The companies will be eligible for co-branding and being listed on the Glass at Work website.
APX Labs, which was featured in TechRepublic for its use of Glass with fans at Washington Capitals hockey games and its successful Kickstarter campaign for a head-up display for motorcycle helmets, has been working with Google for a year. APX created Skylight, which is a business software application for Glass.
"We've been working with Google behind the scenes on building the business case why it's important to support the enterprise with Google Glass," said Brian Ballard, CEO of APX Labs.
Solving business uses cases with Glass
Ballard said that the focus on business doesn't mean that consumer use of Google Glass isn't valuable. "We are consumers as well. But we've spent our entire focus since day one trying to solve business cases with Glass. For us it was building the software tools that take Google's hardware and applying it to how businesses engage in the development of their solution base."
The five companies chosen as partners have "wildly different use cases," Ballard said. "One common thing is that we have significant expertise in actually delivering value to our customers. The fact that there's now a public exposure goes a long way to say this is real and it's staying for a long time. Google is saying, 'Hey enterprise, this is real, we're building a real partner network around our hardware.' It's one of the messages the enterprise needed to see."
Now that companies recognize that Google is putting support behind Glass for the enterprise, they are likely to be more comfortable with using it within their own organizations.
"The piece of it that is implied is that there is so much interest that a market has stood up to support it," Ballard said.
Customer engagement is rising
Now that APX Labs has been chosen, Ballard said it creates a formal partnership with how the company interacts with Google. "It's already creating that dialogue between us, Google, and end customers. For us, it opens a huge opportunity for our customer engagement too. Now customers can find us through Google as well."
Sales requests are already picking up, just a day after the announcement, Ballard said. "It's made our inbound marketing really efficient. We've seen a significant immediate uptick in inbound requests coming directly from Google click through than our normal channels."
Ballard said the enterprise is the natural audience for Glass, because the impact and ROI takes the $1,500 Glass price tag out of the equation. "If the enterprise says it can drive a ROI bigger than the price tag, then the hardware becomes free. The margin on the ROI drives that impact. This is working across a variety of industries. They've built a flexible product. We extend it with our software platform so it's extendable across a variety of industries. The cost becomes irreverent if we can back up the proof of our claims with ROI."
Teena Maddox is a Senior Editor at TechRepublic. She's an award-winning journalist and specializes in business and lifestyle features. She has also worked at People magazine, W magazine and Women's Wear Daily.