7 Ways to Benefit Business

Feature Article | February 12, 2014 by Susan Galer

Photo: SAP

Photo: SAP

Computer wearables like Google Glass are getting an awful lot of attention from consumers. Approximately 10,000 people are testing early editions, often attracting attraction – some of it unwanted. It’s too early to gauge the impact that Google Glass or augmented reality devices might have in everyday life. But companies like SAP are already exploring how these innovations can transform work and even entire industries.

According to Raimund Gross, Solution Architect and Futurist at SAP, Google Glass has tremendous potential to improve employee and company performance provided decision-makers take a practical approach to see beyond the “cool” factor. “Like any technology, it’s important to carefully evaluate whether or not the potential benefits make sense to your organization. Google Glass is definitely more applicable to certain work situations and industries than others,” he says.

New innovations can bring value to banking, healthcare, and manufacturing

Gross is part of the Architecture, Communication, Education, Security (ACES) team at SAP, which explores how new and upcoming innovations can bring value to customers. Their work encompasses a wide range of projects across many technologies including Google Glass. The objective is to see how devices with access to SAP backend infrastructure can deliver real-time, relevant information to workers in industries including banking, healthcare, and manufacturing.

Next page: Seven ways computer wearables can benefit business

Based on his team’s research, Gross suggests that companies evaluate the potential value of Google Glass and similar devices for their business against the following seven considerations.

7 ways computer wearables can benefit business

1. Mobility: Workers who are constantly on the move and need constantly updated information could be ideal candidates for Google Glass. For example, Gross’s team prototyped scenarios for physicians to use Google Glass in their medical rounds. The miniature display on the frames provided directions to each patient by exam room and medical problem. In the exam room, the physician used voice commands to take notes that were instantly transferred to the patient’s record. This increased not just efficiency but also patient-friendliness; the physician never had to look down at papers or tablets.

2. Wearability: Weighing in at 1.28 ounces, Google Glass offers a fairly unobtrusive, practical solution suitable for many environments. Made of titanium and plastic, it’s lightweight yet sturdy. However, it’s not waterproof so may not be best for more rugged workplaces.

3. Hands-free: Glasses with heads-up displays can deliver real-time data to workers whose efficiency and safety depends on keeping their hands free. In this video, a warehouse picker wears prototype glasses that use voice commands to direct him through the entire process from package pick-up through scanning and drop-off for shipment. With details like the exact location of each package, along with weight, size, and type on his head-up display, the worker knows exactly where he has to go and what to look for, while retaining full situational awareness for safety in the warehouse.

Smart glasses provide valuable reminders

4. Visual alerts and reminders: When alarm fatigue, ambient daily noise, and inattention for any reason interfere with time-sensitive, important tasks, Google Glass can assist. For example, health care providers in hospitals must follow stringent processes regarding hand-washing. Google Glass can display harder to ignore, immediate reminders the moment that providers need to wash.

Next page: Wearables in the workplace: benefits 5-7

5. Environment-awareness: Google Glass can be an incredible time-saver for workers who need to have specific information from backend systems that’s integrated with what happens to be in and near their line of sight. For example, in the hospital rounds scenario, a physician wearing Google Glass can automatically be asked if he or she wants the patient’s x-ray displayed on the monitor inside the exam room.

6. Multi-modal: Google Glass responds to voice commands, taps, gestures, or head movements. This means that anyone from manual laborers to clean-room workers to surgeons could use the glasses for increased productivity.

Football coaches analyze and improve performance with Google Glass

7. Always-on: If real-time information is crucial to getting the job done right, Google Glass could be the answer. For example, coaches from the German Bundesliga football club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim have tested Google Glass to gain insights on player performance during practice. The frames display data in real-time such as how fast a player travels down the field, how long he keeps the ball, where he starts dribbling, and how long it takes to score. This enables the coach to offer feedback in the moment for improved performance.

Although Google Glass is not yet available to the general public, now is the time for some companies to consider the possibilities that computer wearables and other augmented reality devices offer. The foundational question needs to be: does this device offer benefits applicable to business goals? If the answer is maybe, there’s a good chance that this new technology is worth exploring.

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