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The return of Google Glass

Google Glass wearable showing the heads up display. (Source: Google)
Google Glass wearable showing the heads up display. (Source: Google)
Google has revealed that Glass has returned, but this time with a focus on the business and enterprise markets. Trial programs in factories have shown productivity increases, but the issue of privacy may rise to the surface again.

In June we reported that the Google Glass Android app and the original models of Google Glass had received their first updates in three years. At the time, we weren't sure why Google had suddenly revived the software, however a feature article at WIRED has revealed that Google Glass has been given a new purpose within the commercial and enterprise environment.

The original Google Glass was a consumer-focused product and was often used for tasks such as checking notifications, reading social media, and viewing maps. However, with the rebirth of Glass, the focus is more on productivity and efficiency. For example, employees of Agco, an agricultural equipment manufacturer based in Minnesota, wear Glass while building tractor engines where the heads-up display reminds them of each step, using voice activation to proceed and removing the need to fumble through greasy paper instructions. In the medical field, doctors can use Glass to stream the consultation to a professional medical scribe for note taking, reducing the time doctors spend recording consultations by two-thirds and increasing the time they spend interacting with patients.

Google is claiming that the rebirth of Glass is a success, boasting of many high-profile companies running pilot programs "including giants like GE, Boeing, DHL, and Volkswagen" with each reporting improvements in productivity. However, the scale of production still relatively small with WIRED reporting that Google "has been selling hundreds of units of [Glass]" to these businesses.

Once the productivity gains have been proven, Google will face the same hurdle that they did with the original Glass - Privacy. How will employees feel about wearing a device all day that could be used by their employer to see their every action, and hear every conversation?


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Craig Ward, 2017-07-19 (Update: 2017-07-19)