Google Glass is back and this time it means business

Two years ago, Google Glass effectively disappeared with many assuming the wearable tech was gone for good. Now Google Glass Enterprise Edition is ready to revolutionise the workplace.

For a brief moment, Google Glass seemed like the gadget of our dreams, creating a truly hands-free mobile experience. Early reports said Glass gave a remarkable augmented-reality experience, allowing users to browse online, play games and take video. It was this last feature which seemed to rub so many people the wrong way. It was hard to tell if somebody wearing Google Glass might be recording you in public, and many organisations went so far as to ban the glasses. Other criticisms included issues with the design and appearance of the glasses and buggy issues. Others claim that wearable technology was just a short-lived fad and, with smart watches and Fitbits, people were starting to lose interest in a device they had to wear. Eventually, Google threw in the towel and in 2015 stopped consumer sales of the specs, as well as launching no further software updates.

Was Google Glass just the wearable-straw that broke the camel's back?
Was Google Glass just the wearable-straw that broke the consumer-camel’s back?

But all was not quite lost. According to Wired, some companies had already started to see the benefits of introducing the hands-free devices to their factory floors and had been ordering the consumer models of Glass well before production stopped. While the man on the street might no longer be able to pick up a new Glass, Google had already created a team dedicated to adapting the technology specifically for the workplace. What they have come up with is Google Glass Enterprise Edition. The new model has several features not available on the original Explorer Edition of Glass.

Google Glass Enterprise Edition seems to leave its predecessor in the dust.
Google Glass Enterprise Edition seems to leave its predecessor in the dust.

Google Glass 2.0

Explorer Edition is hardier, able to survive better in the workplace. It also offers a release switch for the smart eyepieces so that they can be inserted into safety goggles, for different environments. They’ve also made the overall design more lightweight and comfortable for wear throughout the working day. They’ve also beefed up the software specs, including stronger wi-fi connectivity and improved security features. Processors and battery-life have both been improved and the camera quality raised to 8 megapixels. Use of camera features is now accompanied by a flashing light, to prevent anyone being recorded without their knowledge.

Companies are already using Glass to boost their productivity. Factory floor workers can receive orders and notifications while they work. Engineers can view schematics of what they’re working on. Healthcare professionals are even using it to check patient information. The benefits of using training videos that new workers can watch as they practice in real time could also be incredible. Many at Google see this not as a new venture, but as the product of Glass’s original release. Jay Kuthari, project lead on the Enterprise team reportedly said “This isn’t an experiment. It was an experiment 3 years ago. Now we are in full-on production with our consumers and with our partners.”

A warehouse worker at DHL uses Glass's Enterprise Edition to manage inventory as he works. (Image courtesy of Google X).
A warehouse worker at DHL uses Glass’s Enterprise Edition to manage inventory as he works. (Image courtesy of Google X).

Lowell Sun hails the change in strategy as a welcome, and even necessary one, stressing that Silicon Valley tech companies all too often focus on reaching the broadest possible market. In doing this, their technology can miss the opportunity to provide smaller markets with exactly what they need. Two years ago, Google Glass seemed like something of a lost cause, but now it looks ready to become an industry standard for a lot of businesses. At the very least, it’s another promising step towards getting to be Iron Man at work.

Ronan Daly

Ronan Daly is a staff writer for My Good Planet who specialises in Technology and Science. With a Masters Degree in English, and over a decade's experience as a teacher and writer, Ronan has brought a breezy, learned style to My Good Planet, making occasionally complex material accessible and understandable to all.

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