Last year Google made headlines as they started to release the first few batches of their futuristic Google Glass. With its head up display and voice activated command, the wearable computer allowed users to engage with the world in an entirely new way. Despite only releasing a limited number of the devices, Google Glass has received a huge amount of interest.
While the vast majority of us will have little choice but to eagerly await the official launch date, which is yet to be announced, the lucky 8000 who were fortunate enough to partake in Google’s explorer program have been testing the technology since May last year. Over this time, users have been able to enjoy a growing number of applications as well as some major product improvements. Although the app store for Glass now boasts everything from classic arcade style games to shopping apps, does Google Glass hold any real potential for businesses?
When the concept of Google Glass first came to light, the technology seemed to offer an endless list of opportunities. This was especially true for business tasks such as supply chain management where developers saw great potential in using the technology to support a whole range of logistics issues. Although there is still a great amount of optimism that the technology will someday become a vital supply chain tool, including functionalities such as order management and inventory taking, a fully operational supply chain Glass app has yet to emerge.
While the technology may not be quite ready to take on logistics tasks, Google Glass has already been successfully integrated across a number of other business areas. For example, in the aviation sector, Virgin Airways is currently testing Google Glass at their first class lounge in Heathrow airport. As part of the six week trial, the airline is hoping to take advantage of Google Glass’ capabilities to provide their passengers with a more personalised service. If the technology proves successful, Google Glass could be rolled out to other airports across the world.
Improving customer service is not the only area in which Google Glass is making progress; the technology has also found its way into hospitals in both America and India. Thanks to Google Glass’ internet capability and HD video function, the technology enables doctors to collaborate in real time with other medical experts while simultaneously monitoring the patient’s vital stats. Furthermore, given the wearable design, Google Glass has also proven to be a valuable teaching tool, allowing junior doctors to watch medical procedures remotely as if they were actually in the operating rooms.
Considering that Google Glass may well have already helped save lives, it is no surprise that a number of other companies are also in the process of developing their own wearable computer products. For example, the sunglasses manufacturer, Oakley, has been trying to develop a computerized head piece since 1997 and recently released a smart pair of ski goggles. In addition, for those who are unconvinced by Google Glass’ slim line design, Recon has engineered a wearable computer which is small enough to bolt straight on to your current sunglasses. While Recon and Oakley’s offerings tend to cater to sports enthusiasts, rumours suggest that both Sony and Apple are also working on technology which could someday soon rival Google Glass.
Despite the growing number of alternatives however, the technology still has a number of obstacles to overcome before it is accepted as part of our daily lives. With growing concerns that some of Google Glass’ features may be abused to invade our privacy, there is some question as to whether we as a society are ready for such technology. As reported by a local Bay Area news station, one Google Glass user claims to have been assaulted simply for wearing the device to a bar:
Furthermore, there is also some legal controversy over where and when it is acceptable to use Google Glass. For instance; a couple recently found themselves under investigation from the FBI over allegations of piracy after using their Google Glass during a cinema screening of Jack Ryan: Shadow recruits. Another Google Glass explorer was also arrested in California for the using wearable device while driving.
Although the technology still has a ways to go, there is no denying the huge potential of this technology. Considering the increasing variety of both applications and alternative products, it will not be long until Google Glass becomes a mainstream tool for businesses. While no supply chain app currently exists, how would you use Google Glass to support your supply chain operations?