Within Sight

Viewing the Future with Google Glass

Dan Sorensen

July 9, 2013

In recent months, there has been much ado about Google Glass—the new wearable computer with a heads-up display that is beginning to pop up around the world.

Some love the idea of Glass, highlighting how it will help connect the world like never before. Others have concerns that Glass could be used to invade the privacy of unsuspecting victims. No matter what side of the fence you’re on, Glass is coming and it could create a big business opportunity for you and your company.

“OK Glass”

Glass gives users a constant window into the digital universe. Using verbal commands and the touch pad on the side of the device, users can access unlimited amounts of information. Simply saying, “OK Glass” activates a list of commands the device can tackle, which is only limited by your Glassware, another name for apps with Glass integration. In theory, any modern app could be integrated with Glass, as long as it is programmed to do so.

“There are so many ways companies can implement Glass,” says Aaron Frost, senior front-end developer and open web architect at Domo. “When you think back to when the first iPhone was released, there were so many unique apps that were developed, there was no way Apple could’ve predicted every single one.”

Frost, a programmer based in Utah, is one of the first people in the country to receive Google Glass. By offering Glass to developers like him, Google is hoping to have hundreds of integrated applications when the product is released to the public. For early adopters, this creates a pivotal opportunity to capture market share.

Currently, integration is somewhat limited, as Google has only integrated Glass with its own services like Gmail, Google Hangouts and Google+, along with services like phone calls and text messaging. At launch, many expect services like facial recognition, augmented reality (apps that modify a real-world video feed on your viewfinder), heads-up navigation and language processing to be a readily available.

“When the first apps were released for the iPhone, you regularly heard about people making $1 million on an app, but that rarely happens anymore,” says Frost. “Early adopters on Glass will have the ability to beat the competition if they can deliver solid apps on day one of the general release.” 

Glassware for Business

Some Utah companies are already planning on integrating Glass with in-house applications that will simplify the lives of their employees. By taking a series of photos, companies can create 3D images and better visualize real-world environments for installations or inspections. For others, merely having the ability to record everything an employee sees could prove a huge benefit in documenting processes, in hopes of better serving customers.

Utah-based Vivint, provider of home automation systems, is looking to use Glass to allow site surveyors to take pictures of trusses, electrical panels and roof pitches, as well as take notes when surveying installations at the homes of customers.

“Hands-free operation is one real differentiator for Glass. When climbing onto a rooftop or into a tight attic, hands-free operation will allow our technicians to keep both hands on the ladder, making their jobs a little safer,” says Thomas Valletta, principal engineer and architect at Vivint Solar. “If Glass can make our surveyors more efficient, then that helps us do more with less.”

By providing Glass to its employees, Vivint would like to reduce the amount of time per visit by 15 to 30 minutes and eliminate the need to bring computers to the jobsite. These improvements can make a big difference to a company’s bottom line.

Whether Glass takes off in the wider business world remains to be seen. Analysts feel the success of Glass relies on two key things. The first is business users and corporations taking part in the vision. Past technologies, like mobile email, fax machines and even computers, gained their foothold as tools for businesses looking to gain an edge.

The second point that could determine the success of Glass is third-party developers releasing ground-breaking apps that will improve the lives of users. Without successful and powerful apps, the device will not succeed.

Glass’ Next Milestone

While only a select handful of individuals have received Glass so far, it is expected that the device will ship sometime in the next year. The first version of Google Glass—released to a few select developers—costs $1,500. Future versions are expected to be cheaper, but Google has not confirmed actual prices at launch.

In the meantime, developers and app builders will be happy to know that Glass works off a web API based on HTML, meaning it will be much easier to build and integrate apps.

As the technological showdown winds up for Glass this coming year, businesses should begin thinking about their Glass strategy post haste. If the glass slipper fits, it could give your business the boost it needs to beat out a competitor or corner entirely new markets and ventures. 


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