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Using Smart Glasses for Job Training and Education

Written BY

Emily Friedman

July 24, 2015

As you know, smart glasses can do a lot in the enterprise: They can allow employees to access information via a visual scan or voice command; they can enable easy, hands-free recording or documentation of work environments, tasks, and events; and they can deliver alerts and other up-to-the-minute, task-oriented information right to the eyeline of a worker. In addition, smart glass technology plus augmented and virtual reality are currently being tested in a number of industries to support innovative, immersive training, both on and off the job. These novel takes on job training and education by the likes of Hewlett-Packard and Lee Company are proving not only highly effective but also tremendously time- and cost-saving.

Gartner predicts smart glasses will have the most impact in heavy industry precisely because “the AR glasses enable on-the-job training of workers.” Yet HP and Lee Co. prove that applying smart glasses to job training extends well beyond heavy industry.

Instructions and illustrations displayed in smart glasses can enable workers in any industry to perform tasks for which they don’t remember all the procedures, with the glasses serving as a kind of virtual assistant; or as an interactive, hands-free how-to manual. But the technology can also serve as a virtual teaching and training tool, enabling workers to successfully complete tasks with which they have little experience along with teaching or training them to perform those tasks in the future.

Video collaboration with experts in remote locations amps up the educational/training aspect of smart glass technology. Not only can employees at remote sites communicate and share real-time video of what they see with colleagues “at home base;” but inexperienced workers in the field can be guided or instructed by experienced workers away from the field, also in real-time. In this way, smart glasses can facilitate effective, on-the-job training; and, as the Lee Company use case shows, an aging skilled workforce may remotely train the next generation of field workers. Imaginably, such innovative job training methods incorporating wearable technology will allow enterprises to employ a larger ratio of less experienced workers to experienced ones, thus saving labor costs and ensuring a ready stream of workers with the know-how to get the job done.

Forget traditional classroom training, memorizing procedural steps, and thick equipment manuals, read below to find out how both HP and Lee Company are using smart glasses to redefine job training:

HP

At the HP Virtual Labs (HPVL), smart glasses like Google Glass, Vuzix, and ChipSip are employed as an extension of HP’s training services—to virtually connect HP education students with lab technicians, and allow the students to see into the physical part of the lab.

The HPVL state-of-the-art facility supports the technical training courses offered by the HP Education Services team, with virtual access to servers, storage, network devices, VMs, and software environments. HP’s courses operate under the philosophy that hands-on experience with real equipment & software is key to student success. During instructor-led training, virtual access to equipment is augmented by MyRoom collaboration software, and the addition of Visual Remote Guidance and smart glass technology means that HP lab techs can demonstrate physical tasks to students, such as cable adjustments and the like.

So how exactly are smart glasses integrated into the HPVL experience? The key is that students don’t need the glasses themselves to experience the benefits of the technology: the smart glasses are worn by HP lab technicians, and the view of the lab as seen by those techs shows up on the MyRoom console for students. The students use the MyRoom collaboration tool (the same tool HP uses for remote customer service & technical support with its enterprise clients) to gain access to the lab equipment; they are able to see into the lab from the comfort of their own computers through the eyes of the lab team wearing smart glasses.

Michael with Google Glass and networking in the lab

Over the smart glass platform, technicians can demonstrate physical equipment manipulation, such as cabling for network devices, as well as system upgrades and hardware changes, whenever necessary. Having the ability to see everything the techs running the lab see – with the MyRoom software and technicians’ smart glasses acting as an interface – HP students are mastering everything from servers to network devices to storage in a truly novel, state-of-the-art virtual learning environment.

Lee Company

Just as HP employs smart glasses to enable its techs to virtually train IT students on HP equipment and software, Nashville-based Lee Company is utilizing smart glasses to enable industry vets to train the next generation of technicians…

What do you do with an aging skilled workforce that can no longer meet the physical demands of the job? How do you harness the vast experience and deep knowledge base of that workforce? And how do you train and develop junior technicians without the benefit of on-the-job coaching from seasoned veterans? Those were the burning questions for Lee Company before discovering XOEye Technologies’ smart safety glasses. In fact, skilled workforce development & retention are industry-wide challenges in the utilities sector. But Lee Co. was able to address these challenges with smart glass technology, by taking advantage of the “see-what-I-see” capabilities of the technology.

In our last HP spotlight post, we discussed how the see-what-I-see aspect of smart glasses is ideal for remote customer service & technical support. Lee Company proves that same aspect is also ideal for on-the-job training, serving as a bridge – a tool for virtual sharing and guidance – between young, inexperienced technicians in the field and older & wiser experts who can’t be at the jobsite. By putting smart safety glasses made by XOEye Technologies on both its junior and senior technicians, Lee Company is able to develop the next generation of skilled workers while also employing the current generation beyond its physical limitations. (To learn more about the Lee Company, read here.)

Using smart glasses for job training and education is just one application of wearable tech in business & industry. With the next generation of Google Glass aimed at the enterprise and other smart glasses like Vuzix’s M100 already active in many workplaces, it will be exciting to see the variety of inventive ways businesses put the technology to use in the years to come.

Further Reading