I’ve been following Google Glass from the very beginning, back when it was simply known as “Project Glass”. Right off the bat, I was one of those people who wasn’t quite sure if this thing would actually take off. I mean come on – connected gear on your face? When you’ve already got a smartphone in your pocket and a couple of desktops in the office? Sounded like overkill to me. But even I have learned to never count out the Great Google and their wacky innovations. Any one of them could become the next big thing in tech.
Prototypes are making it to the hands of more users, who are taking the time to give their own personal verdicts in detailed Google Glass reviews. Widespread viability will ultimately determine whether this idea flourishes or flops. The future will tell all. For now at least, there appear to be quite a few legit uses for Google’s new project.
1. On the Spot Troubleshooting in Manufacturing
Google Glass has the potential to be useful in numerous areas, particularly those where professionals are busy using their hands. In manufacturing, service engineers dispatched to make repairs can leverage its hands-free functionality to snap pictures of mechanical problems and send them to personnel at headquarters who are able to better diagnose the issue. Using Glass’ built-in camera is as simple as saying “take a picture”, or lightly tapping the camera button located just above your right eye.
Like a smartphone, Glass does video, so those same technicians could pull up a tutorial or other video-based resources that help them diagnose and fix the issue right on the spot. Whether it’s out in the field or out on the production floor, smart usage of Google’s gadget could possibly go a long way in boosting operational efficiency.
2. Real-time Data Processing in Logistics
With its ability to process barcodes and connect to existing databases, Google Glass might find regular usage on the supply side of logistics operations. Truck companies and warehouses can use the device as a more ideal and efficient way to collect real-time data on inventory prior to shipping. Before freight even hits the dock, production workers (or pickers) can visualize items right before their eyes, making orders easier to locate and fulfill. In an ideal scenario, production rates go up and quality assurance accuracy is high enough to keep everyone happy.
3. Engaging Non-profit Communications
A recent ZDNet article takes a look at how Google is trying to appeal to nonprofits, essentially challenging them to discover new ways to put Glass to use. The search giant is offering to award five nonprofits in the U.S. with a $25,000 grant and a trip to its Mountain View headquarters for intimate training with the pros. Those lucky organizations will also receive additional Glass support from Google developers.
It’s a humble (and strategic) effort on the part of Google, but nonprofits aren’t necessarily in the dark when it comes to putting Glass to use. For example, in an effort to show supporters how their donations are paying off, you could host a live tour or meeting that introduces them to the locations or people they’re helping. This is fairly easy to pull off with Hangouts, Google’s real-time video chat app. Simply let your supporters know when the session will take place, and whether they have one or not, they can see what you see through Glass.
4. Streamlining Medical Services in Healthcare
Google Glass can make some of its biggest impact in the healthcare arena, where it already appears to be paying off. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO John Halamka examined how the gadget is improving the quality of patient care in a recent blog post. The post highlighted how Glass gave one doctor immediate access to the allergy data and medication regimen of a patient who came through emergency with “massive brain bleed”. With the info readily available, the emergency team was able to quickly carry out the procedures and administer the medications needed to effectively treat the patient. The physician claimed that having to chase down the same information on a computer could have resulted in a delay that the left the patient permanently disabled or even dead.
Google Glass has yet to even hit the shelves, but already inspired competition in this new market of smart eyewear. Vuzix has an entire roster of so-called “smartglasses”, which come in three specific varieties: Consumer, Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality. These gadgets offer functionality such as the ability to play video, integrate with gaming consoles, and drive flight simulations. Considering that Vuzix has been specializing in this field for nearly 20 years, it may be safe to say that their technology inspired Google Glass.
Then there’s GlassUp, a competitor that owes its creation to the power of crowdsourcing. Funded through KickStarter, GlassUp promises to be a simple alternative that keeps users in sync with map data, notifications, emails and other info we tap into on a daily basis. GlassUp looks very promising. If not for the support it’s drumming up from the open community, for the price. You can preoder the basic version for $300 and be one of the first adopters when it releases in the fall of 2014.
So is it worth it? The best way to determine if Glass makes a good fit for your business or individual needs is to slip on a pair and try it for yourself. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. The Glass Explorer program, which let you buy a test version to play with, is all filled up. Google had extended the Explorer program to anyone with $1500 to spare for one day (August 15), but quickly sold out. Now it looks like we’re all waiting until the official release slated for an unspecified date this year.
No need to really be in a rush for this one. The more patience we have, the more time Google will have to work out all the kinks. At the same time, we can sit back and see how everything pans out for the early adopters who just had to have it.
Top Photo Credit: Ted Eytan via Flickr