How Smart Glasses Are Good for Business

Rett_SAPSmart glasses are coveted by techies the world over. In an interview with, Jörg Rett, a senior researcher at SAP, discusses how they have major enterprise potential as well. Google Glass has triggered a new wave of hype and turned the spotlight back onto the topic of augmented reality. Why now?
Jörg Rett: Google Glass is a device that weighs next to nothing, runs on a long-lasting rechargeable battery, and is fitted with a camera and sensor that let the wearer perceive movement in 3D. The device consists of a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display that shows useful, context-specific data right in front of the wearer’s eyes. As such, Google has set a standard for today’s smart glasses.

I’ve got a smartphone. Why do I need smart glasses?
Rett: When you use a smartphone, you’re constantly switching between looking down at your display and up again into your environment. That can be very disruptive. For example, if my job involves having both hands free to carry or hold onto something, then smart glasses make perfect sense. And the display in front of my eyes “augments” what I’m seeing in reality with additional, useful information that will help me complete my task, or gives me directions to a specific destination without me having to look down at my smartphone display all the time.

Isn’t that kind of technology just for nerds? Are there business scenarios for smart glasses?
Rett: One classic scenario is maintenance and service: imagine that a technician needs to carry out a service, change a pump, and repair or inspect a technical device. Thanks to augmented reality technology, smart glasses could use GPS data to guide the technician to the right location, by giving instructions such as “turn right” or “climb the ladder”, for example. Once the technician has located the pump, the smart glasses could provide relevant information about it.

Or imagine the scenario in a huge Amazon warehouse: Smart glasses can help personnel pick the correct items. Augmented reality can also help when it comes to onboarding temporary personnel. Here, smart glasses can speed up the process of navigating to and locating goods.

Augmented reality can improve quality too. In the automotive industry, faulty assembly can lead to costly vehicle recalls. SAP addressed this issue back in 2008 in the SiWear project. We set up a scenario at Daimler AG in Germany where pickers wore a headset to direct them to the correct parts for assembling particular types of engines. A variant of this still exists as a prototype in the SAP Future Retail Center.

To learn more about what SAP offers and to see videos of augmented reality scenarios, read the full interview on