Google Glass was a revolutionary new product when it was first announced: a head-worn computer that could respond to voice commands, snap pictures and shoot videos, and display text, images, video, and graphics on a small screen that’s within your normal field of vision without obscuring the rest of your environment.
When Google began seeking beta testers for the device, the company talked about a future where Google Glass would be a consumer device that would change the way you interact with the world. Instead of looking down at your phone, you could engage more fully with the world around you, spending less time looking things up, because when you need them they’re right in front of your face.
That didn’t really work out. But Google Glass isn’t dead. Instead it’s finding new life in the enterprise market, and after a few years of testing Google Glass Enterprise Edition devices and software with partners, the company is relaunching Glass.
Google Glass is now part of the Google X “moonshot” division again. But instead of trying to change the way all of us interact with the digital and real worlds, the team is focused on changing the way people can get things done in the workplace.
Factory workers can see instructions without stopping to look at paper manuals. Doctors can take notes and look up your chart, drug interactions, or other important data without typing on a keyboard and staring at a screen. And warehouse workers can see which shelf or bin an item goes on with a heads-up display featuring real-time instructions.
In a blog post, Jay Kothari, the project lead for Google Glass says in pilot tests, mechanics at GE saw efficiency improvements between 8 and 12 percent, DHL workers improved supply chain efficiency by 15 percent, and doctors cut their time performing administrative work from 33 percent of their day to less than 10 percent.
Results will probably vary depending on the software solutions used and how people and teams make use of Google Glass.
Pricing will also vary: Google isn’t selling Google Glass directly to consumers anymore. Instead business customers can contact a Glass Partner to get an estimate. There’s no one-price-fits-all solution because the price depends on variables including custom software solutions, training, and customer support.
Google says any businesses or individuals with consumer-oriented Google Glass Explroer Edition hardware can continue to use it. But the new Glass Enterprise Edition hardware “has been specifically designed for enterprise and is supported through our network of Glass Partners.”
The new hardware is also said to feature unspecified “improvements to the design and hardware so that it’s lightweight and comfortable for long term wear,” and offers improved battery life and performance.