Sunday, 16 February 2014

Google Glass and the enterprise

There are signs that Google Glass is about to impact the enterprise space. The wearable device is arming firefighters with data, it is worn by Virgin Atlantic staff to assist passengers at London's Heathrow airport, and it is also used by doctors and nurses to improve work procedures.

Patrick Jackson is a Fire Engineer currently developing a Google Glass-compatible version of his FirefighterLog mobile app. The application would provide location and other field data to firefighters directly to a display inside a face mask, allowing them to work faster and safer.

An article on describes how the application works:

The FirefighterLog converts text dispatch data into Google navigator to provide firefighter-engineers with GPS-based driving directions to an incident. When users receive a text message from dispatch, the app uses mapping software to display location information.

The FirefighterLog presents options for mapping the call, driving directions and other data to a registered user's smartphone.

It allows for quicker notification and more complete information available to first responders using secure communications.

The app displays hydrants and water supplies on Google maps, offers automatic streaming of RadioReference scanner feeds, records response times and stores account and call history — all in the cloud.”

While at present the application is somehow limited to exterior work, there are examples of how it could improve the internal communications among fire personnel, such as incident commander or safety officer. "Personnel can have them on and be placed on all sides of a structure where they can stream video back to an incident commander and provide a view of the other side of the building," commented Jackson.

In future the application could also “import pre-incident plan and occupancy data”, as well as incorporate a “library of information on vehicle models to help first responders quickly extradite victims.”

A recent video produced by Google shows how the device could be used to improve the job of firefighters.

Virgin Atlantic

Another example of how Google Glass could be adopted for professional purposes is given by Virgin Atlantic. As part of a six-week trial, the company is providing some of its conciergie staff with the wearables at London's Heathrow airport. The device is used to support upper class passengers with check-in process, answer their queries, update them on their flight, local weather, events and translating information in different languages. If the pilot is successful, the company will think about a wider roll-out, and used to keep their staff informed and notified on more passengers requirements.


Pristine is a startup in Texas that has developed the app EyeSight. The application let physicians and nurses transfer live video and audio of wound patients from Google Glass to each other through authorized computers, smartphones and tablets.

Cited in an article on SFGate, CEO of Pristine Kyle Samani, said: "We're really using this primarily as a tool, to help people connect where it was either not possible or practical before. If, for whatever reason, the doctor is not physically here, we'll find the next best way to get him here."

For example, a nurse can use the device to stream a video of a patient's wound to a doctor, who will then consider whether he or she should analise the injury in person.

Pristine is also planning to bring the application into intensive-care departments, emergency rooms and ambulances.

Looking through the Glass

These are just a few examples of how businesses are exploring the possibilities offered by Google Glass. This new technology is improving operations, and adding agility and speed to the way employees share information and manage documents to perform their jobs. But there are also indications that the device can change the interactions and relationships among people for better.

In Age of Context, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel point out that the eye contact enabled by the wearables improves the way we relate to each other: “with Glass's visual enhancement, you don't have to look down at a phone.”

What will happen when organisations start to use Google Glass more widely? The implications for internal communications will be many and possibly profound. For examples, Glass can change the way people conduct meetings. Employees will no longer need to look down at their laptops and tablets while they speak. Thanks to Glass, they will be able to look at somebody in the face and maintain rapport.

Wearing Glass makes us understand how such devices will enhance many everyday activities, giving us new perspectives on reality, adding information and data and letting us capture the moment.” - Age of Context,  Robert Scoble and Shel Israel

Virgin Atlantic Photo: Ted Eytan, Flickr
Pristine Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle

Have you ever used or tried Google Glass in a work-related context? Do you have any stories or examples to share?