Google Glass appears to be on the verge of a comeback, in Enterprise at least, a move that will perhaps prove the concept of Augmented Reality, and perhaps lead to an adjustment of the tactics of VR firms.
Faultline Online Reporter has said for over a year that VR will be stillborn if it is tied to using the smartphone as a viewing platform. People can only use such a device to see 1 degree of freedom at a time, and need to sit blinded with a screen strapped to their heads to enjoy it. That way lies mild titillation and the odd gasp, not an industry. Top end headsets are much the same – they support staying stationary and not moving your arms about for fear of smashing your living room ornaments back in the real world.
Augmented Reality definitely has drawbacks in that many obvious applications allow for vision in both the real world and in a second virtual world, and for that a lot of content needs to be created which either explains a device, or how to fix it or is a reality built around a specific place. But we’re confident that usual software innovation can get around that once momentum picks up and that AR is the better prospect. The only application that existing VR sits well within, is gaming. Watching TV, exploring virtual worlds, doing social media on a virtual social media world, are all bridges too far, tough to do while blind.
Think about where you usually look at Facebook. Could you afford to be entirely immersed in another world at that point? Likely not. But Google Glass or something like it, might allow a symbiosis for two overlapping worlds, where people can wave and get your attention in the real world, before that bus runs you over, and yet you can experience a different virtual one as well.
In a blog post this week Google revealed how its work on Google Glass had been progressing with a feature story placed about Agco, which manufactures complex agricultural machines for farms. It engineers use it to be reminded of the 1,000 precise steps to put parts of them back together correctly. It has worked with Belgian firm Proceedix, which has put together work procedures for the system. The outcome is a massive hike in productivity and a lower initial training burden on engineers. They can be expert in more things, more rapidly with the help of the system.
Another system at Augmedix, a documentation automation platform for patient care has increased physician productivity by 30%.
There are a host of similar claims on the Google Glass website and the new service is being called Glass EE, and partners include Aira in California for blind assistance; EyeSucceed in Michigan for the food industry; Access in Indianapolis, in rural healthcare; Picavi in Germany in logistics; Proceedix we mentioned earlier.
Google seems to have done the hard yards of developing relationships with AR specialist apps which will take services to market and drag the device with it. No pricing or consumer apps as yet.