Perhaps in tribute to the season premiere of Game of Thrones, Google Glass is demonstrating that what is dead may never die, as Alphabet's X (formerly Googlex) has revealed that the Enterprise Edition of the smart glasses are now available to businesses.
Two years ago, the tech press proclaimed the death of Google Glass after its Explorer Program shut down and the team spun off from Googlex lab as its own entity. It turns out, the reports of the death of Google Glass may have been somewhat exaggerated, if not entirely premature.
During its downtime, Google Glass has focused its development as an enterprise solution rather than a consumer product, lining up clients such as GE, DHL, Boeing Company, and Volkswagen, among about 50 others, who have assigned Glass as a productivity tool.
For those who have been paying attention, though, this is not breaking news.
Alongside Glass's evolution as an enterprise tool, software partners have arisen. Upskill has delivered the Skylight platform that guides industrial workforces through complex processes with step-by-step instructions. In conjunction with Glass, workers can keep their hands-free and avoid swiveling between the task at hand and an instruction manual or computer display.
Most recently, Upskill has tested Skylight with GE Aviation and Boeing as a means for assisting workers with assembly of aircraft engines. In a vote of confidence, both companies have invested in Upskill via their venture arms, GE Venture and Boeing HorizonX.
"We believe that Skylight on Glass Enterprise Edition has the potential to be a real game changer in terms of its ability to minimize errors, improve product quality and increase mechanic efficiency," said Ted Robertson, manager of maintainability & human factors engineering at GE Aviation via news release.
Meanwhile, another software provider, Augmedix, has nurtured solutions for the healthcare industry. Their Remote Scribe application facilitates transcription of patient visits through Glass and gives doctors a hands-free view electronic health records. Sutter Health and Dignity Health are among the healthcare facilities utilizing Glass and Augmedix.
Enterprise customers also report measurable improvements in productivity using Glass. Agricultural machinery maker AGCO has seen production times reduced by 25 percent and quality inspections time decreased by 30 percent. DHL reports an approximate 15 percent improvement in order fulfillment efficiency. Augmedix claims that doctor's charting tasks are decreased by 80 percent with Remote Scribe and Glass.
"Employees are now working smarter, faster and safer because they have the information they need right in their line of sight," said Peggy Gulick, director of business process improvement, AGCO, via blog post.
Now, having returned to X, Google Glass will team up with the Google Cloud unit to pursue additional enterprise clients.
While Glass was a novel device during its Explorer Program days, it is now one of several players, like DAQRI, Epson, and Vuzix, that are producing smart glasses for enterprise use, available at similar price point to the Explorer Edition (if not much higher).
(Of course, a new category of mixed reality headsets has emerged concurrently to Glass's hibernation, with Microsoft HoloLens, Meta 2, and Magic Leap's somewhat mysterious device blazing new trails in computing. And, at the lower end of the price spectrum, there are companies like Arvzon and HeadsupAR taking the Google Cardboard approach to AR. Oh, and Apple has some tricks up its sleeve as well. But, let's digress for now.)
So, for the time-being, if you're interested in acquiring Google Glass, the expectation is that you are a business owner or work for a company that is adopting the product.
The average consumer will have to wait until the market matures and Moore's law runs its course. Don't forget that, just over ten years ago, the smartphone, in the form of Blackberries and Palms, were reserved for business use only as well.