Hardware

Google Glass reborn with improved Enterprise Edition for workers

Google Glass is alive and kicking, in use by more than 50 companies. Now, Google parent Alphabet is increasing availability for the AR tool among the enterprise.

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Image: Google

Google parent Alphabet's Glass Enterprise Edition will now be offered to more businesses through the firm's partner network, according to a blog post from Glass project lead Jay Kothari on Tuesday. The device—born out of Alphabet's X division—had been used in a limited program for the past two years, claiming more than 50 business customers including Boeing, Volkswagen, and more.

The poster child of Alphabet's enterprise program for Glass is GE, which used the smart glasses to boost airplane mechanic efficiency by 8-12%, the post said. Instead of consulting a bulky manual, the mechanics are now able to access the information they need through Glass.

Instead of a paper book, the GE Aviation employees can access instructions, animation, videos, and more from a Glass running software from Upskill, the post said. This has led to a reduction in errors in their work as well.

SEE: Wearable Device Policy Template (Tech Pro Research)

The original Google Glass Explorer Edition made a big splash in 2013 and 2014, prompting many to predict its eventual widespread use in the enterprise. However, after limited updates from Google, some assumed the project had been abandoned sometime in the past year or two.

To improve the product, X has been working with more than 30 partners over the past two years to develop custom software and enterprise tools for Glass Enterprise Edition. The design has also been overhauled to focus on lightweight hardware, battery life, and wearability, the post said.

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Image: Google

Machine manufacturer AGCO has been using the Glass Enterprise Edition, which has dropped production time by 25%, the post said. Peggy Gulick, AGCO director of business process improvement, said that Glass is helping employees work "smarter, faster and safer."

Additionally, Glass has also been rolled out at DHL to improve order fulfillment, and among medical professionals to handle medical scribing and improve electronic record keeping.

According to a recent TechRepublic CIO Jury, 83% of CIOs allow wearables at work, but that doesn't mean Google will have an easy road, as the full-glass form factor seems to be dominating in the space.

Companies like ODG have launched rugged smart glasses for extreme environments, and Epson's Moverio line has been through multiple generations so far. Microsoft HoloLens has also taken strides toward the business world.

Regardless of circumstances, Glass is back. And the team is now partnering with the Google Cloud team on new business solutions for the future, the post said. The smart glasses market is still young, so Alphabet does have time to make a play and gain market share, if they can optimize the form factor and deliver real business value.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Alphabet X's Glass Enterprise Edition will be offered to more businesses, as the company has expanded the partner program.
  2. Glass has been in use by some 50 organizations, and the team is working to develop new industry solutions.
  3. Only time will tell if Alphabet will be able to compete in a market that seems to be dominated by different form factors than what it is offering with Glass.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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