“What kinds of jobs are your employees doing every day that could someday be enhanced by Glass?” mused Jan Brown in iBi in April 2014, before answering her own question. “Reading barcode labels, looking up assembly instructions, troubleshooting service problems with customers, saving lives, assisting with surgeries, training new physicians, diagnosing patient symptoms.” The onetime Google Glass Explorer’s predictions have proven prescient, even as the consumer version of Glass was discontinued in 2015—the victim of a backlash over privacy concerns, buggy software and general awkwardness.
Behind the scenes, manufacturing and warehousing firms, among others, were quietly discovering the workplace benefits of Glass, whose hands-free nature offered workers access to real-time information—training videos, assembly instructions, safety checklists and the like—while allowing them to remain focused on their work. After a two-year trial program proved hugely successful, Glass Enterprise Edition (EE) was publicly unveiled in July 2017.
Companies including General Electric, DHL, Boeing and Volkswagen have reported vast productivity gains and quality improvements, as Glass EE allows workers to do their jobs faster and more accurately than ever before. Having fixed many of the bugs that plagued the consumer product, the new edition is hurtling toward widespread adoption in manufacturing, logistics, healthcare and other industries.
With Glass seamlessly integrated into workplace processes, it’s Exhibit A in the proposition that advanced technology can help workers do their jobs better, rather than automating them away. In Harvard Business Review, GE’s chief economist and the executive chairman of Upskill, which builds industrial software for smart glasses and other wearables, outline the performance improvements supporting this conclusion.
“The experience at General Electric and other industrial firms shows that for many jobs, combinations of humans and machine outperform either working alone,” they write. “Wearable augmented-reality devices are especially powerful.” Learn more about Glass Enterprise Edition at x.company/glass. iBi