When Microsoft launched their Surface tables I could see a lot more enterprise use from the device than simply moving photos around during the early days of the demos. Since then Surface adoption was a commercial disaster and are still more of a gimmick than for day to day business use. Sadly Microsft has lost the plot so lets not look in their direction for inspiration now.
I wrote about marrying up touch enabled devices with a process tools and personally I still feel that losing the mouse and keyboard is somewhat inevitable, hands are infinitely more adept at manipulating an environment and objects and having a touchscreen/ gesture based version of a business process tool would be a natural transition.
At the time in 2010 I also got in touch with Schematic (www.schematic.com), the firm behind the technology as seen in Minority Report because creating such a device for enterprises in a workshop environment would be an exciting prospect. If anything it would be a boon to lose the frankly archaic brown paper model. I even pointed towards John Underkoffler at TED demonstrating the very same thing, and in which towards the end he lists the kinds of end user industries he’d see this kind of technology implemented in (I urge you to watch the demo all the way through and try to imagine integrating this in an enterprise context. Great stuff. http://bit.ly/9lMx2G)
Anyway, I digress, back to Google Glass. Just how can Google Glass and Augmented Reality add value in the enterprise. If we look to a recent article which discusses how Glass can change advertising you can begin to see where I’m going with this.
….what if the ads you saw were different than the person next to you? What if, like the ads you see online, they are based on a composite sketch of you created by all the searches you’ve done and the websites you’ve visited? In other words, what if you looked up and instead of seeing an ad for something you would never buy — like women’s shoes — you saw an ad reminding you of that Amazon search you did a few days ago ?
So, what if you’re sitting in a call-center and instead of staring at a productivity pie-chart on a screen you pop your supervisory head above the parapet and with your Google goggles can see each individuals performance figures ? By calling up the person in question using the interface you can see their stats in a heads-up (HUD) display. Plus with not being tied to your desk you can floor-walk at the same time or do this anywhere, anytime, without the need to carry a tablet or phone interface with you.
In an interview I took with Dr Ross Brown of QUT he stated that “Augmented reality system tools for BPM would be nice as well. Imagine six sigma data overlaid on the artifacts used in a process model…all on a heads up display as you walk around the company – a “BPM Tricorder”. That was in 2011. Before Google Glass.
And similar to the article about advertising, every c0-worker will have a different view based on their own work and position in the organisation, again able to call this up at any time, any where. Go deeper and you could have enterprise social integration, the obvious trick is to offer filters for the noise from the relevant and actionable information to present in front of the user.
It’s not just implications for workflow scenarios and businesses in customer service industries, healthcare is another example of where wearable technology like this could be a massive boost in real-time and mobile patient informatics. Or in education, no more ‘smart boards’ if the kids are wearing augmented reality sets and receiving tailored tutoring depending on their own individual needs.
Google Glass could very well be the catalyst for true mobilility and personalisation in many industry sectors.
In January Google sent out invites for two separate 2 day “Glass Foundry” events in San Francisco (January 28-29) and New York (February 1-2) for developers (known as ‘Glass Explorers’) which will allow them to get to know the new Mirror API and develop projects for Glass. Whether any enterprise software vendors took up this offer remains to be seen but Glass will not be the only AR device on the market to develop for in 2013.
Fortune favours the brave and it’s interesting times as consumer devices lead the revolution in the workplace we’ve all been waiting for. Let’s see who’s first to make that leap.
Actually sod it, I’m throwing the challenge out there.