Workers with hands-on jobs often have to look away from what they’re doing to access information. This shifting of focus is time consuming and can also create distractions that lead to mistakes. Manufacturing and field workers, for example, often have to step away from the work at hand to consult manuals or guides while fixing machinery, and doctors often have to divert their attention from patients to transcribe notes or look up records.
Glass Enterprise Edition is a hands-free, wearable computing device that intuitively fits into the user’s workflow to help them remain engaged and focused on their work. Glass can easily clip onto glasses or safety shields and puts a display in the upper right corner of a user’s field of view to allow them to focus on their work, while simultaneously connect to a deeper world of information.
Developing Glass Enterprise Edition was both an advanced technology challenge and a big design challenge: a useful computer you’d comfortably wear on your face.
The history of Glass can be split into two phases: Explorer and Enterprise. In the Explorer phase, the team set out to create a lightweight wearable technology that could be there when a user needed it and out of the way when they didn’t. The team invested a lot in both how Glass looked and what it could do. Form and function were equally important in a device this new.
Rapid prototyping pushed the technology forward by quickly moving the team through numerous ideas with fast methods and creative materials, from cobbling together a coat hanger and handheld projector to strapping the guts of a mobile phone to a 3D-printed glasses frame. The team wanted useful features like search, photos, and video on a device that is close to the user all the time, sees what the user sees, and has a sense of the user’s context. They also wanted something beautiful, otherwise, no one would wear it. “Light,” “intuitive,” and “flexible” became the team’s design principles — and they found gorgeous colors that would look good on anyone.
By April 2012, the team was wearing Glass out in public and testing it in their everyday lives. This “living lab” approach was expanded to the public in April 2013 through the Glass Explorer program, which helped the team learn from athletes, concert pianists, hairstylists, and marathon runners how a device like Glass could be useful.
Involving enterprise in the Explorer program highlighted Glass’ potential in business settings. Over the last few years, the team has worked to customize Glass for the needs of different enterprises, with easier software updates, improved battery life, and easy syncing with other workplace devices like barcode scanners or keyboards. The team has also worked closely with more than 30 expert partners who’ve developed customized applications for work environments in industries like healthcare and manufacturing.
Today, there are over 100 businesses that use Glass to complete their work faster and more easily than before. Workers at AGCO, an agricultural machinery manufacturer, use Glass Enterprise Edition to reduce the amount of back and forth between the workers’ projects and their checklists and manuals, saving 25% of production time. DHL’s employees use Glass to receive real-time instructions about where items have to be placed on carts, which has increased supply chain efficiency by 15%. Glass is also helping healthcare professionals at Dignity Health and Sutter Health save two hours per day by freeing up doctors to look patients in the eye while notes are transcribed, reducing the time they spend on electronic health record keeping.
From giving hands-on workers information where and when they need it to providing extra expertise with a “you-see-what-I-see” video feature, Glass is helping many businesses work better, safer, faster. After two years of development at the moonshot factory the Glass team moved from X back to Google to scale their efforts and make the newest version of their device available to hands on workers everywhere.