Augmented reality empowers organizations to take the data and content that enterprise employees need and make it available to them in line with how they work. Implementing AR glasses gives users a place to display relevant work data while keeping their hands free, and the trend is rapidly taking hold in a variety of settings, including the supply chain.
For example, a report from the Harvard Business Review said that line-of-sight instructions delivered to employees in a General Electric pilot project improved worker performance by 34 percent on their first use.
The gradual rise of AR in enterprise settings could accelerate with the new Google Glass 2.0 system.
According to a Wired report, Google Glass is getting new momentum after the project was initially shuttered due to a poor response from consumers. At the time, Google Glass was built and marketed primarily for consumer purposes, and the solution proved too glitchy and unfocused to work well. When Alphabet shut the project down, it was still quietly working on Google Glass Enterprise Edition, a more focused variant of the technology that is proving valuable for manufacturers and similar organizations.
The awkwardness of wearing glasses that seemed clunky from a consumer perspective are a natural fit in settings where employees must wear safety goggles anyway. With the comfortable fit in place, the ability to overlay virtual information and content on the physical world made it easier for employees to work quickly and efficiently.
Peggy Gulick, the director of business process improvement for the Jacksonville, Florida, branch of AGCO, a company implementing AR glasses, told Wired that any initial difficulties presented by transitioning to AR were overcome by massive productivity gains.
"We knew the value of wearable technology when we first put it on the floor," Gulick told the news source. "In our first test in quality, our numbers were so high in the value it was adding that we actually retested and retested and retested. Some of the numbers we couldn't even publish because the leadership said they looked way too high."
The Google Glass Enterprise Edition highlights the potential offered by augmented reality. Having such a recognizable brand enter the space could also add a degree of legitimacy in a still emerging market. However, Google hasn't led the charge to AR in the enterprise. That leader was Vuzix, a company that delivered the world's first commercially available smart glasses. The Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses laid the foundation for AR in business settings, offering an easy-to-deploy monocular display.
The Vuzix M300 Smart Glasses take this functionality to another level, using the Intel Atom processor to give users hands-free access to the digital world. The technology offers the major benefits of smartphones, but with head-tracking technology to adjust the display to the location and viewing angle of the user.
Hands-free access to data, images and applications is increasingly critical in supply chain workflows where leaders are worried about the safety risks of having workers holding on to handheld mobile devices all the time. Smart glasses provide all the digital tools needed in the enterprise, and they do it in a safe way that naturally aligns with day-to-day operations.
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