April 28, 2016
Google Glass was no hit with consumers: We know this, and we’ve made our peace with it. But what Google Glass did accomplish was to introduce professionals – from surgeons to first responders to construction contractors – to the seemingly endless possibilities for smart glasses in the workplace. And smart glasses certainly have come a long way since the days when Glass failed to impress (and in some cases annoyed) the average consumer: The leading enterprise smart glass makers are on the second, third, and fourth generations of their hardware, while Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality headsets are finally hitting the market in a spectacular way.
Lux Research aptly defined three major functions that smart glasses perform: 1) Accessing information; 2) Real-time communication; and 3) Documentation. In our newest blog series, we will touch on these three functions as we discuss four major features of smart glass technology, including the ability to augment reality offered by more immersive devices like the Microsoft HoloLens.
The four main features of smart glasses are:
- Hands-free still image, video and audio recording (which lends itself to hands-free documentation)
- Real-time sharing of wearer’s POV (which lends itself to “see-what-I-see” communication)
- Hands-free, on-the-spot access to information
- Augmenting the real world
In each post, we will examine a few use cases highlighting one of the four features, beginning with two cases from the world of insurance and the manufacturing industry.
(It’s important to note that the above features can overlap and feed into one or more of the functions for smart glasses outlined by Lux. A company exploring the possible benefits of smart glasses should remember that a use case can be as simple as using the technology to take and store photos without the use of one’s hands. In many job environments, simply freeing up workers’ hands in this manner would go a long way towards improving efficiency and safety.)
Hands-free image, video, and audio capture
Most smart glass devices come equipped with an (HD) camera and microphone. By a simple touch, gesture or voice command, someone wearing smart glasses can gaze and shoot, capturing unique pictures, video, and audio instantaneously and without taking their hands off the job. This content can then be stored in the device’s onboard memory or streamed in real time to a supervisor, colleague, student, the public, etc., or uploaded to a database. Let’s take a look at some real-world examples:
National ConnectForce Claims (NCC)
You’ve probably read about how wearable technology is changing the game of health insurance, as an increasing number of corporate wellness programs are incorporating wearable fitness trackers and insurance companies seek to gain access to customers’ wearable data. Beyond health insurance, there are other applications for wearable tech – in particular smart glasses – within the insurance industry. Case in point: NCC, a leader in the claims adjusting business.
With their ability to capture everything the wearer is seeing and hearing, smart glasses can be useful in claims assessments, where field agents need to document, say, damages to a property as well as take statements from property owners and witnesses while remaining aware of their physical surroundings and engaging with individuals.
In 2014, NCC tested the use of Google Glass as a tool for field adjusters in its Catastrophe Division. This division services clients who insure personal and commercial property from natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. The goal of the pilot was to determine whether smart glass technology might help improve the claim settlement process.
The concept is as follows: Field adjusters would wear Google Glass during investigations in order to take photos and capture real-time video and audio information from the ground to share instantly with a supervisor, specialist or desk adjuster back at home office. The office-based personnel would be able to use the footage and data streamed directly from the loss scene to more quickly identify key elements and evaluate next steps, communicating these to the dispatched adjuster. In the case of complex losses, you can imagine how the recording capabilities of smart glasses would increase reporting quality and efficiency, and ultimately improve the accuracy of loss adjusting.
From the field adjuster’s point of view, smart glasses improve the process of scoping and documenting a loss, making it easier, quicker and more precise compared to fumbling with a hand-held camera or other device. But more than a hassle-free means of capturing visual and audio data, smart glasses enable real-time claims and catastrophic event assessments: Everything seen and heard by the field adjuster is conveyed in real time, providing immediate feedback to the home team. As the quality of information collected at each loss site improves and this information is communicated in real time, the entire claims handling process improves.
In addition to employing smart glasses to provide better customer service, NCC indicated it would explore Google Glass’ potential to assist in training prospective claims adjusters.
Based in Duluth, Georgia, AGCO is a major manufacturer of agricultural equipment, offering a line of tractors, combines, hay tools, sprayers, forage and tillage equipment—products which are distributed through AGCO’s global network of over 3,000 dealers. As technology advances to help farmers simplify and maximize their yield, production of farming equipment becomes more and more complex, which is why AGCO has incorporated Google Glass in the remote support of its customers as well in the manufacturing and quality inspection processes.
AGCO makes use of all of the features that smart glasses have to offer in several different areas of its business and operations. One feature the company takes full advantage of is the hands-free documenting capabilities of Google Glass. In this video released by the company, you can see how field agents use Glass to take, store and send photos immediately to AGCO tech support for issue diagnosis and advice.
The field service rep in the video is wearing Google Glass, and appears to be responding to a farmer’s call; the pair are in a field, and the farmer informs the rep that his equipment is malfunctioning. The agent proceeds to use Glass to call tech support; he verbally relays the farmer’s situation, then uses the smart glasses to take a close-up photo of the part at issue as requested by the remote support tech. The benefits are clear: the field agent does not need to carry around multiple devices, allowing for hands-free inspection and documentation. He can take and send photos on the spot, allowing tech support to diagnose the issue and prescribe a solution while the rep is with the customer.
This is just one of the ways in which AGCO is employing smart glass technology. To learn more about this use case, catch Peggy Gulick, Director of Business Process Improvement at AGCO, presenting a case study on the use of “Google Glass on the Manufacturing Floor” at EWTS East.