Consumers Don't Want Google Glass but Manufacturers are Interested

Meagan Douglas
Thu, Mar 3, 2016
Vuzix currently offers smartglasses for use in manufacturing and distribution.
Vuzix currently offers smartglasses for use in manufacturing and distribution.

An interesting feature of innovative products is they sometimes find an audience the original designer didn't plan for. The market can deal manufacturers surprises, and companies have to remain flexible to respond.

Google Glass was originally marketed as a new communication tool for consumers that could outperform smartphones and other mobile devices when it came to certain tasks. The commercial market's response to the product has been cool at best, but the corporate world shows excitement for the technology, according to Demand Media. As Google redesigns its product for new markets, manufacturers need to explore the possibility of wearable technology use in their shop floors and warehouse management.

Why Google Glass Failed Consumers
Being able to watch videos and research topics on a screen right before your eyes seems cool, so why didn't consumers want Google Glass? Hands-free technology is certainly innovative, but that doesn't mean its necessary. Forbes suggested the main reason Google Glass failed commercially is because audiences didn't see it as a solution for any particular pain points.

Consumers may want hands-free technology for the sake of novelty, but there is no fundamental reason to buy the expensive merchandise. Smartphones and tablets provide all the convenience they need and the technology is more familiar than wearables. If companies want manufacturers to abandon their favorite computing tools, they need better reasons than it's kind of fun.

Google glass also came with certain disadvantages. The technology couldn't be used discreetly. Some consumers even said the device wasn't aesthetically appealing and caused them to be embarrassed when wearing it in public, especially when other wearable options like watches offer a less distracting option.

Google's New Plan for Industry
The consumer market's loss is industry's gain. 9to5Google, an informational blog about the company, recently reported Google Glass social media pages shut down in early 2016. The pages had been infrequent with updates and the company plans to divert resources from its commercial markets to refocus the product's appeal.

The Verge detailed how Project Aura, Google's wearable technology division, documents filed with the FCC shared information and pictures about new industry specific models of Google Glass. The latest product is more durable than previous options and waterproof. It also expands the field of vision, to ensure users aren't limited by application of the technology and can prioritize safety.

Other features of the new technology include a better camera, battery and Intel processor. The technology behind wearable devices is constantly improving, and if Google can't find a consumer market, it will explore applications in industry instead of giving up on innovation.

Wearables in Manufacturing
As Google starts creating products specifically for industry, companies can profit from shop floor and warehouse wearable devices designed with their needs in mind. InformationWeek shared examples of labs working with delicate materials using Google Glass to perform hands-free reporting and healthcare professionals wearing the devices to capture interactions with patients.

Google can market wearable products to industries in ways they couldn't with consumers. Wearable technology is able to solve pain points that improve the speed and safety of production and warehouse procedures. Keeping in constant communication with supervisors helps employees streamline data collection procedures and receive detailed information to simplify their daily tasks. Capturing practices on a convenient camera can help manufacturers and other organizations see what caused accidents or mistakes to happen.

Industry also doesn't have to worry about the consumer-oriented disadvantages of Google Glass. Safety equipment doesn't have to be fashionable and as long as the new products don't get in the way, it's all right if the wearable technology isn't very subtle. For example, technology that provides voice picking and visible data capture is actually more convenient for some warehouse processes. Inventory workers can have both hands full and supervisors can still see how actions are accomplished through the eyes of Google Glass users.

If a company does implement Google Glass, it needs to make sure the technology integrates with its information infrastructure. The RFgen white paper "The Data Collection Software Buyer's Guide" said implementation of cost-efficient mobile data collection devices calls for a company to reevaluate how the equipment will work and if the company can process the increased data transactions. Google Glass offers a consistent source for intricate details on daily procedures. To make the advantages worthwhile, however, businesses need a flexible system that can adopt the benefits into core functions.

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