AR at work: Four of the best applications for Google’s Glass Enterprise

After experiencing somewhat of a flop with its initial consumer-focused release, Google Glass has returned with Glass Enterprise Edition. Partnering with several businesses, and across a variety of industries, Google has refocused the device on fulfilling more industrial applications. While the actual changes to Glass are fairly minimal – essentially the core components have been upgraded to reflect the four years since initial release – the main shift is in the intended audience for the device.

It’s probably fair to say that the aesthetic didn’t help with the consumer launch of Google Glass, but – probably more overtly – the device didn’t find the necessary audience because the asking price was far too high for the actual functionality offered. The audience for a high-cost consumer augmented reality (AR) device wasn’t, and probably still isn’t, particularly huge.

Bringing Glass to industry, however, makes a lot of sense; Google is far from the first to see the benefits that AR can offer to industrial applications. Below, we profile some of the best ways the new Enterprise edition is likely to be used.

Google Glass is bringing augmented reality to healthcare

Partnering with Augmedix, a company providing a remote documentation service for doctors, Glass allows doctors to double the amount of time they spend interacting with patients, according to Glass client and health system Dignity Health. Principally, this is done by cutting down on the amount of time spent documenting; rather than the doctors having to spend time typing up patient records and notations, they can instead trust to the remote scribe program to handle it while they focus on actually helping their patients.

This is potentially only the start, though. Doctors require access to vast amounts of information and the healthcare process can often become bogged down by administration and documentation. Augmedix takes the pressure of some of that documentation off doctors, but Glass could be put to further use if it was access all those records as easily as it adds to them. Rather than a doctor having to pore through documents, they could instead be easily pulled up directly in their Glass. By streamlining doctor’s interaction with records, Glass could allow them to better focus on and help their patients.

Manufacturing may be the best use of Glass Enterprise

Manufacturing possibly offers the best case study for how Glass Enterprise can help to improve an industry, with the foremost example probably being the work that has gone into the partnership between Glass and GE Aviation. Approaching how to increase the efficiency of a business that handles the complex and specialised maintenance of aeroplanes, Glass partnered with Upskill to provide a custom AR software package known as Skylight.

Whereas mechanics would previously have had to stop to consult computers or sift through enormous manuals, Glass Enterprise can put all that information right in front of their eyes. More than just stopping them from going down a ladder to read the required information, though, the Glass/Skylight combo can pull up videos, animations and images so that a mechanic can see exactly what they need to be doing. According to GE, the introduction of Glass both reduced errors at key points in the assembly and overhaul of engines, and improved its mechanics’ efficiency by 8–12%.

Glass is bringing augmented reality to logistics

Image courtesy of Ubimax

The principle advantage that Glass offers is the ability to free up the hands of workers and provide real-time information, often with additional visual formats. This has been put to use in the logistics industry with DHL and its supply chain process. Increasing the business’ supply chain efficiency by a reported by 15%, Glass helps the company fulfil orders by letting workers know in real-time where items need to be placed on carts for shipping.

Across industry, Glass Enterprise can create a constant flow of information that is easily available to workers and can turn a warehouse environment, for example, into a far more efficient workplace as hands-free technology keeps workers constantly updated. By combining Glass with Ubimax’s Vision Picking solution xPick, companies are able to speed up their processes and reduce error rate simply by making it so that all the information that could possibly be required is always available and directly sent to the worker’s eyes.

Glass Enterprise could help the military and emergency services

Image courtesy of US Army illustration

Perhaps a distraction in the middle of an emergency situation, AR nevertheless offers a wide variety of helpful applications to those in both the military and emergency services. In both cases, the advantages offered by a device such as Glass are focused around being able to expand the information available to a user at any time. Even if just for training, having more information available to a user in a more dangerous field such as the military can only be a good thing.

As with other industries, the transformative aspect provided by Glass is the ability to provide users with vast amounts more information than they may otherwise have and keep them updated in real-time with new knowledge and instructions. Providing strategic overlays and ensuring that users in dangerous lines of work are kept provided with the most up-to-date information available could make some form of Glass Enterprise a crucial tool to those in the military and emergency services.

However while the US military in particular is making use of AR, there are no specific Glass partnerships around yet. But watch this space: a Glass Battlefield Edition may not be far away.

China planning to end sales of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles

Xin Guobin, China's vice minister of industry and information technology, has said the government is working with regulators to put in place a timetable to end the production and sale of cars powered by fossil fuels. It's hoped the move will accelerate the expansion of the electric car market.

Source: Bloomberg

Limited Tesla Autopilot was "partly to blame" for crash

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has found that Tesla's Autopilot system was partly to blame for a fatal accident in which a Model S collided with a lorry. The safety board concluded that Tesla allowed the driver to use the system outside of the environment for which it was designed,

Source: BBC

Chelsea Manning warns about the risks of AI

During a conversation at Noisebridge hackerspace, Chelsea Manning commented on some of the inherent risks of AI. "We’re now using huge datasets with all kinds of personal data, that we don’t even know what information we’re putting out there and what it’s getting collected for," Manning said.

Source: Ars Technica

US government bans Kaspersky software from its agencies

The Department of Homeland security has ordered government agencies to stop using software products made by Kaspersky Lab because of possible ties between Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence. The process of discontinuing Kaspersky products is expected to begin within 90 days.

Source: Ars Technica

Hyperloop One selects ten possible routes for the first hyperloop

Hyperloop One has announced that it has selected ten proposed routes for the first hyperloop. The company also announced that it would “commit meaningful business and engineering resources and work closely with each of the winning teams/routes to determine their commercial viability”.

Source: Inverse

Artificial 'skin' gives robotic hand a sense of touch

A team of researchers from the University of Houston has reported a breakthrough in stretchable electronics that can serve as an artificial skin, allowing a robotic hand to sense the difference between hot and cold, while also offering advantages for a wide range of biomedical devices.

Source: Science Daily

The plan to make every surface inside the car of the future smart

Yanfeng Automotive Interiors (YFAI) has revealed a vision for the future of cars where every surface inside the vehicle can become a smart surface.

Launched at the International Auto Show, YFAI’s activeSkin concept will turn the largely decorative surfaces inside cars, including the door trim, floor console and instrument panel, into smart interior surfaces, which YFAI says will be “fully interactive” and could be ready by 2022.

“The future generation of surfaces will be smarter than ever. Just by passing your hand over a upholstered surface of the car will appear an interactive surface or dynamic decorative ambient light. Surfaces interact with us, “says Han Hendriks , YFAI’s chief technology officer.

“This technology is impressive.”

Images courtesy of YFAI

YFAI says its customisable 3D glass surfaces could benefit drivers by replacing some of the current operating elements in traditional cars.

However, If no information is called up by the driver, integrated screens and operating surfaces would remain invisible as purely decorative glass surfaces, so drivers would not be distracted by unnecessary information popping up.

“We offer on-demand functionality, so it will only be visible when you need it. In this way we will be able to customise features on interior surfaces,” said Hendriks. “With activeSkin we can achieve a 3D effect that gives a feeling of amazing depth.”

This isn’t the first time YFAI has tried to predict what cars of the future will be like.

The company’s XiM17 concept car was designed with autonomous driving in mind and helped answer the question, “What will people do in their vehicle, if they no longer have to drive?”

YFAI’s XiM17 allows passengers to switch between a number of different modes to allow passengers a number of different ways of engaging.

For example, in family mode all four seats in the car are positioned facing each other, whereas in meeting mode the rear seats are folded away. so that the driver and passenger seats face each other. and a floor console rises to form a desk.