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Google Glass is back, and its eyeing up the enterprise

James Henderson | July 25, 2017
Success will be determined by the scale and skill of tech giant’s partner ecosystem as it battles Microsoft HoloLens.


Machinery workers use Glass to see assembly instructions, make reports and get remote video support. Credit: Google 

After two years of deliberation at the drawing board, Google Glass is back with a clearer vision.

Revealed to the world less than a week ago, the revamped version of the tech giant’s smart glasses is sizing up the enterprise as it bids to bring augmented reality (AR) to business.

After temporarily shelving the project in early 2015 - promising to only release the next-generation device “until it’s perfect” - Glass Enterprise Edition represents a shift in approach for parent company, Alphabet.

“Glass, as you might remember, is a very small, lightweight wearable computer with a transparent display that brings information into your line of sight,” wrote project lead Jay Kothari, when announcing the release the new product in mid-July.

“In a work setting, you can clip it onto glasses or industry frames like safety goggles so you don’t have to switch focus between what you’re doing with your hands and the content you need to see to do your job.”

According to Kothari, workers across many fields - such as manufacturing, logistics, field services and healthcare - find it useful to consult a wearable device for information and other resources while their hands are busy.

“That’s why we’ve spent the last two years working closely with a network of more than 30 expert partners to build customised software and business solutions for Glass for people in these fields,” Kothari added.

“We’ve also made improvements to the design and hardware so that it’s lightweight and comfortable for long term wear. We’ve increased the power and battery life too.”

The updated model places Google directly in competition with Microsoft, following the global expansion of HoloLens in October 2016, including markets in both Australia and New Zealand.

This time however, the battleground will be the enterprise, as both vendors fight for supremacy in an immature market.

“Google Glass has made a return, but this iteration is focused on the enterprise rather than the consumer market,” Ovum research analyst Adam Holtby said.

“The heads-up display experienced some troubled times prior to its disappearance in 2015, but its recent rebirth as a workplace tool has the potential to help the technology become a viable enterprise proposition.

“Success in the enterprise space will require continued investment in and commitment to developing a variety of new use cases and broadening the partner ecosystem that will support the hardware with new and innovative apps.”

Across the industry, AR headsets are receiving the most media attention, but the hardware is only as good as the software and services running on it.

 

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