All the News Out of EWTS 2018

The 2018 Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit took place October 9-10 at The Fairmont in Austin, TX. A number of announcements were made at the event—all great news for the future of enterprise wearable technologies. From new partnerships to global deployments, here are the developments announced at the event:

RealWear Announces That Colgate-Palmolive to Roll Out HMT-1 Hands-Free Wearable Computers to 20 Manufacturing Sites in 11 Countries

Colgate-Palmolive is rolling out RealWear’s voice-operated HMT-1 among hundreds of its mechanics and engineers across 20 of the company’s largest manufacturing facilities in 11 countries. Colgate-Palmolive employees will use the technology to receive support from remote SMEs, equipment suppliers and manufacturing teams, as well as to retrieve and capture documents and video.


Vuzix Receives M300 Follow-On Orders from SATS to Outfit Ramp Handling Operations with Smart Glasses at Changi Airport

SATS, the chief ground-handling and in-flight catering service provider at Singapore Changi Airport, began piloting the Vuzix M300 to increase accuracy and efficiency in its ramp handling operations in mid-2017. The company is now expanding its use of the technology, deploying smart glasses to over 500 employees at Changi Airport. Wearing Vuzix M300 Smart Glasses, workers will be able to receive real-time loading instructions and scan barcodes on luggage and cargo containers, hopefully reducing loading times by up to 15 minutes/flight.


Toshiba Adds Voice Commands and Enhanced Camera Capabilities to Create Vision DE Suite 2.0

Toshiba has upgraded its software engine to include voice commands, enhanced camera capabilities, and other new features. Vision DE Suite 2.0 delivers live video collaboration, photo/video capture and viewing (plus image resolution control), real-time file synchronization and alerts, a remote management console, and flexible controls to dynaEdge AR Smart Glasses users. The upgraded software is now available for purchase, while existing customers will receive a free upgrade.


RealWear Rolls Out Zero-Touch Deployment Solution with RealWear Foresight Cloud Platform

In other RealWear news, the company announced the RealWear Foresight cloud platform with zero-touch deployment, now a built-in feature of the HMT-1 and HMT-1Z1. The solution accelerates early enterprise deployments, allowing RealWear to ship devices directly from its fulfillment centers and organizations to immediately and securely deploy the technology by adding any app from the RealWear app catalog. Companies who’ve optimized their apps for the HMT-1/HMT-1Z1 include HPE, Librestream, PTC, Ubimax, and Upskill.


AMA Partners with Proceedix to provide advanced remote assistance solutions

The integration of XpertEye and Proceedix delivers the most comprehensive solution for remote assistance and work flow support on mobile and wearable devices, maximizing usage and benefits for end users. The alliance of the two solutions is designed for industrial sites with multiple use cases for smart glasses, so that a worker can use the same pair of smart glasses to view heads-up, hands-free work instructions and receive real-time support when needed. See what the CEOs of AMA and Proceedix had to say at EWTS here.


Atheer Announces the World’s First Augmented Reality Management Platform, Creating New Enterprise Software Category

Atheer revealed the “world’s first Augmented Reality Management Platform for industrial enterprises,” a new category of enterprise software aimed at helping companies tackle challenges relating to change, connectivity, talent, and operational complexities. The device-agnostic platform supports natural controls, see-what-I-see video collaboration, digital asset management, contextual awareness, predictive and performance analytics, and more. Aragon Research calls it “an important milestone” for enterprise AR. Check out the White Paper that accompanied the announcement.


Upskill launches support for Microsoft HoloLens

Upskill announced the early release of its AR/MR platform Skylight for Microsoft HoloLens. The move opens up more real estate to display information and extends Skylight into the spatial computing environment, offering a new experience for Skylight customers. Users can use hand gestures and simple gazes to navigate in virtual space and view multiple windows at the same time. Building on HoloLens’ Windows 10 capabilities, the solution securely connects to back-end systems to pull information into the mixed reality environment. Watch the video.


Three trends to watch in enterprise wearables

The Glass team shared their experiences at EWTS 2018 in a blog post, recapping the trends they’ve observed working with their partners and customers. Read it here. Jay Kothari and his team at X, the moonshot factory, say they are continuing to improve Glass based on user feedback.

Making Your Next Flight Safer and Smoother with Wearable AR+VR

From building the actual plane to the in-flight experience, wearable XR (AR, VR, MR) devices have a role to play in multiple professions within the commercial aviation industry. Employees whose jobs affect every aspect of one’s trip, including aircraft maintenance workers and flight crew can make use of wearable XR technologies to ensure the end goal: A safe and satisfied traveler. Find out how XR might be used on the ground and in the air when you go on your next business trip or vacation:


On the Ground: AR for Assembly

Both Airbus and Boeing employ augmented reality (AR) glasses in the aircraft assembly process. Airbus workers follow plans directly in their field of view, superimposed on the plane’s interior during cabin installation. They use the same solution to check the accuracy and quality of their work (image recognition technology and artificial intelligence at work); while Boeing employees use smart glasses to view a heads-up, hands-free roadmap for wire harness assembly over their real-world view. In each case, AR functions to form a stronger connection for the user between textual or diagrammatic instructions and the real working environment.

Using AR glasses with software by Upskill helped Boeing save tens of millions of dollars, but it’s not all about money: By helping employees work faster without error, aircraft manufacturers can deliver defect-free planes to customers quicker. Airlines and other buyers thus receive faster-built, higher quality aircraft and parts that breakdown less often. Aircraft and parts engineers can also use AR and VR devices to collaborate on new designs from anywhere in the world, sharing and testing ideas and even simulating the assembly or installation process to foresee issues. New XR platforms are only making this collaboration easier.


VR for Training

After assembly comes maintenance: It can take up to eight years to train and license an aviation maintenance professional. This includes aircraft OEM mechanics and airline technicians who perform safety checks, prepare aircraft components for flight, make repairs, and more. While accessing real aviation equipment for hands-on training is costly and difficult, in VR trainees can practice skills in a realistic, accident-proof immersive environment with virtual parts and tools. For instance, a mechanic wearing a VR headset could walk inside an engine and examine its parts as well as simulate different repair scenarios. With advanced audio and haptics (like a haptic suit), the trainee could even hear the noise and feel the motion of the engine, better preparing him for the real thing.

A recent study at the University of Maryland found that people actually learn and retain information better through immersive experiences compared to using a computer or tablet. Enterprises are also finding VR to be superior to reading a manual, watching videos, or taking a lecture-style class. While not an example of full immersion, Japan Airlines used Microsoft’s HoloLens to improve training for its engine mechanics—in place of physical hangouts, trainees learned all the engine components by working on a virtual engine in mixed reality.

Learning by doing with AR is effective and cost-saving for training, as well. Aviation maintenance workers can learn on the job without risk of error by using heads-up, hands-free smart glasses to view fool-proof text and visual aids over their work. The technology can even validate each step of an inspection or repair to prevent errors. Static instructions can become interactive, with virtual arrows and labels appearing on top of real-life aircraft equipment, showing the user where parts and tools should go. The result: Faster training without sacrificing accuracy or quality = quicker maintenance, fewer flight delays, and happier travelers.

Once the engine has been overhauled, the plane is ready for service. Expensive and logistically challenging, pilot training is another opportunity for VR. In recent years, the burden of paying for flight school has fallen onto pilots themselves. The $60,000-$80,000 price tag explains why flight school enrollment has fallen in the U.S., leading to a growing shortage of trained pilots not all that unlike the troubling shortage of skilled workers in other industries. CAE forecasts that over 255,000 pilots will be needed in the global commercial aviation industry by 2027, yet less than half that number has even begun training. Some carriers and manufacturers are making efforts by sponsoring aspiring aviators or expanding their flight training services, but the cost and time is still too great.

For industries with large, complex and expensive equipment like aviation, VR offers the closest thing to hands-on training. Virtual reality, capable of simulating almost every aspect of flying, feels more real than many current flight simulators (essentially stripped airplane cockpits with screens for windows) and is adaptable to all kinds of scenarios. Rookie pilots can walk around the cockpit, interact with the plane’s controls, and even practice an emergency landing, with tactile feedback to increase the sense of realness and help build muscle memory. VR is already finding its way into flight training programs: Airbus, for one, has been able to reduce training time and train more people in limited space using VR to supplement training in real aircraft; while Future Visual created a simulation for Oculus which takes pilot students through the entire pre-flight process. And VR isn’t just for ground crew and pilots; cabin crew and even airport staff training could incorporate immersive tech, as well.


In the Air: AR for Guidance

The length of runway required for a standard aircraft to get off the ground can be calculated, but what if there are unexpected failures? What if the engines aren’t working to full capacity or the takeoff field is wet? Will the aircraft still reach the required speed for takeoff? According to Boeing, 13% of fatal aircraft accidents occur during takeoff. In fact, pilot errors, not maintenance failures, are responsible for the vast majority of all aviation accidents. This isn’t surprising considering it’s largely left to the pilot’s subjective opinion to determine a response when something goes wrong.

The problem lies in how information is presented to the pilot inside the cockpit. It’s hard to focus on flying when you have to read and quickly analyze the text on a bunch of small instruments and screens all around you. AR technology can display this information in a more intuitive format. For instance, with smart glasses, information like pre-flight checklists, step-by-step instructions, current weather and air traffic information, even a 3D graphic of the takeoff path can appear overlaid in a pilot’s vision before takeoff. Aero Glass actually has a solution that displays flight path and instrument data to small airline pilots wearing smart glasses. The same cockpit information a pilot might get using physical controls and touch screens can be retrieved instead by voice command; and when a snap decision needs to be made during a flight, AI technology can pick out the most relevant information to display to the pilot.


XR in Flight Service?

The benefits of integrating AR glasses and VR headsets into aircraft assembly and technician training are tangible today, but at this point airlines have merely proposed ideas for using XR in the air without seriously investing. This is probably due to the consumer-facing nature of the in-flight experience. Providing flight attendants with smart glasses to interact with passengers or offering VR headsets as in-flight entertainment are not critical use cases like the need to quickly train thousands of new pilots. Moreover, the timeline for mainstream consumer use of AR and VR is still unclear.

XR hasn’t yet transformed the experience of flying, but some airlines are considering it. Air New Zealand, for example, had its crew members try out HoloLens to expedite and provide more tailored customer service during the flight. To cater to individual passengers, flight attendants might access their flight details (to help make connections), food allergies (to personalize meals), even their emotional state (facial recognition tech). Air France trialed VR headsets for in-flight, immersive entertainment; and though not in the air Lufthansa has used VR to sell upgrades to premium class right at the gate. Who knows? Maybe one day those safety instructions in your seat pocket will be replaced by a virtual reality video. In the meantime, rest assured that XR technologies are improving aviation operations behind the scenes, from the hangar to the cockpit.

 

The Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit (EWTS) is an annual conference dedicated to the use of wearable technology for business and industrial applications. As the leading event for enterprise wearables, EWTS is where enterprises go to innovate with the latest in wearable tech, including heads-up displays, AR/VR/MR, body- and wrist-worn devices, and even exoskeletons. The 5th annual EWTS will be held October 9-10, 2018 at The Fairmont in Austin, TX. For more details, please visit the conference website.


Augmented World Expo (AWE), the world’s #1 AR+VR conference and expo, comes to Munich, Germany on October 18-19, 2018. CXOs, designers, developers, futurists, analysts, investors and top press will gather at the MOC Exhibition Center to learn, inspire, partner and experience first-hand the most exciting industry of our times. Apply to exhibit, submit a talk proposal and buy Super Early Bird tickets now at www.aweeu.com.

Everything Enterprise XR Announced at AWE USA 2018

The scope of the Augmented World Expo is large to say the least—six tracks, a huge expo divided into pavilions, a Playground of entertaining immersive experiences, workshops, and more. As opposed to EWTS’ enterprise focus, AWE truly gathers everyone interested in defining and progressing the future of XR in every aspect of life; and BrainXchange was happy to partner with the show’s producers to help plan the industry event.

There were many announcements at the 9th AWE and some really cool tech on the expo floor (mixed reality backpack, anyone?) For our followers interested in the business and industrial applications of wearable XR technologies, we’ve separated enterprise from consumer in recapping the major developments (yet still beta in many cases) that came out of last week’s event:


Kopin

One of the most anticipated announcements was for the Kopin Golden-i Infinity: A compact and lightweight, gesture- and voice-controlled smart screen that attaches magnetically to turn any pair of suitable eyewear into an AR display. The Golden-i is powered by an Android or Windows mobile device – thereby offloading the heavy lifting – and can connect to apps using a USB-C cable. It’s intended for enterprise use and will arrive by the third quarter of this year at a price of around $899.


Qualcomm

Qualcomm revealed the Snapdragon XR1 Platform, the first chip specially made for standalone XR devices. The new processor features special optimizations for better interactivity, power consumption and thermal efficiency; and could potentially reduce the cost of entry for new AR/VR hardware developers. Qualcomm also released a reference design that has already influenced forthcoming standalone devices from VIVE, Meta, Vuzix and Picoare.


Vuzix

In addition to taking the stage alongside Qualcomm to reveal the new Snapdragon XR1, Vuzix announced a partnership with Plessey Semiconductor and a shipping date of June 1st for the Blade AR Smart Glasses. Both partnerships will affect Vuzix’s next-gen smart glasses (expected in 2019) by increasing processing power and upgrading the display engine. During his keynote presentation, Lance Anderson also called on developers to help augmented reality move forward by creating practical and entertaining apps for the Vuzix Blade, the first fashion-friendly smart glasses for both work and play.


RealWear

AWE attendees were introduced to the HMT-1Z1, the first commercially available, ruggedized head-mounted AR computer certified for use in potentially explosive work environments (ATEX Zone 1 and C1/D1). The intrinsically safe wearable computer presents no ignition risk, allowing all workers to go hands-free and take advantage of the efficiency benefits of the HMD, and will ship on June 15th.


eSight

SPEX, a new division of eSight Corporation, showcased its first AR headset platform offering “breakthrough enhanced vision” in commercial, industrial and medical scenarios that require precision vision. The lightweight HMD has no release date as of yet but has been described as comfortable, providing an augmented view of the world without obstructing the user’s natural vision.


Atheer

Atheer announced the latest version of its AR platform, which includes secure group collaboration so that multiple remote experts can provide live video guidance and support across the supply chain (think of manufacturers with multiple suppliers). The company also widened the range of business processes supported by the Atheer AR Workflow Engine to include dynamic warehouse pick lists, contextual task guidance, checklists, link workflows, surveys, and note-taking for seamless process documentation.


Epson

Epson released the Moverio AR SDK for its line of Moverio Smart Glasses, which adds new capabilities like 3D object tracking using CAD data and 2D image tracking to the former SDK. The update enables the creation of 3D content for Moverio glasses and can detect various objects from 3D CAD files (no need for QR codes or other markers) as well as track multiple 2D images on a 3D plane. Epson is accepting applications for beta testers to help identify bugs.


Kaaya Tech

Kaaya Tech’s HoloSuit, a motion capture suit featuring haptic feedback for full immersion, was on showcase at AWE. The MoCap suit with haptic tech comes in two models, a basic one with 26 sensors and a higher-end version with 36 sensors. As opposed to games and entertainment, Kaaya Tech sees its technology being used in physical training simulations for industrial jobs, factory line work and the operation of heavy machinery.


ODG

ODG demonstrated a working model of an AR oxygen mask it has been developing with FedEx. The mask, named SAVED for Smoke Assured Vision Enhanced Display, has a heads-up AR display to help pilots make a safe landing despite smoke filling up the plane. In the near future, ODG plans to offer the technology to civil and commercial aircraft manufacturers and pilots as well as the military.


ScopeAR

ScopeAR debuted a new AR platform offering real-time remote assistance and augmented reality smart instructions. The all-in-one solution combines Scope AR’s video calling app Remote AR and the AR content creation library WorkLink to enable increased levels of collaboration and guidance.


Toshiba

At AWE, Toshiba demonstrated its dynaEdge AR Smart Glasses with two new applications resulting from recently-announced partnerships with Applied Computer Services (ACS) and Ubimax. ACS’ Timer Pro Storyboard software for video training and the Ubimax Frontline application suite are now both available on the dynaEdge.


Meta

AWE attendees got a live, on-stage demo of the Meta Viewer, the first software application for the Meta 2 headset that lets users view 3D CAD models in AR. Currently in beta state, the app will save time and reduce costs in the product development process—everyone in the development chain (designers, salespeople, etc.) will be able to use Meta Viewer to collaborate and interact with 3D designs without having any special technical skills.


RE’FLEKT 

The company has added Sync – “the first software solution to automatically create edge-based tracking from CAD data” – to REFLEKT ONE, its suite of AR/MR app development tools. Sync is designed to further simplify the transformation of existing technical documentation and CAD data into AR/MR manuals and enterprise applications. With Sync, RE’FLEKT claims AR apps for maintenance, training and operations can be built completely in-house. Companies can save time and money and do not have to share their proprietary CAD and other data with a third party.

 

Image source: Wareable

 

The Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit (EWTS) is an annual conference dedicated to the use of wearable technology for business and industrial applications. As the leading event for enterprise wearables, EWTS is where enterprises go to innovate with the latest in wearable tech, including heads-up displays, AR/VR/MR, body- and wrist-worn devices, and even exoskeletons. The 5th annual EWTS will be held October 9-10, 2018 at The Fairmont in Austin, TX. For more details, please visit the conference website or download the EWTS 2018 Brochure.


Augmented World Expo (AWE), the world’s #1 AR+VR conference and expo, comes to Munich, Germany on October 18-19, 2018. CXOs, designers, developers, futurists, analysts, investors and top press will gather at the MOC Exhibition Center to learn, inspire, partner and experience first-hand the most exciting industry of our times. Apply to exhibit, submit a talk proposal and buy Super Early Bird tickets now at www.aweeu.com.

Smart Glasses, AR, VR and MR: Head-Worn Devices in the Enterprise

Watch Picavi’s Johanna Bellenberg talk about head-worn devices with the very people implementing the technology at Walmart, GE Transportation, Gensler, USPS, and FM Global. The group shares the insights, “aha” moments, and limitations realized in implementing AR/VR glasses and headsets; and come to a common consensus on the value of these technologies especially for employee training.

 

 

AR/VR is helping the Postal Service meet the demands of a changing digital world, in which its 20-year-old fleet of vehicles needs fixing and replacing and more and more part-time employees need fast training. Passing information from carrier to carrier via a physical book containing information on every route isn’t an efficient method, not with millions of delivery points each day. Using AR/VR for vehicle maintenance and to eliminate 50% of training time for new employees is what it takes to keep the Postal Service alive.

As there isn’t a solid use case yet for HMDs in the retail world, Walmart is using VR at its training academies to simulate exceptional customer experience problems you wouldn’t want to create in a real store and shopping events that only happen once a year. VR is ideal as you “can get multiple reps over and over.” For Walmart, how associates feel on the floor is important. While allowing them to be hands-free and heads-up in stores might help them engage more confidently with customers, VR training goes a long way towards increasing their confidence before they have to face shoppers.

FM Global, a commercial property risk insurer that counts one out of every three Fortune 1000 companies as a customer, is using AR for remote engineering surveys of client facilities and VR as a selling tool. If political restrictions make it difficult to send out a field engineer, FM Global sends a pair of smart glasses to the customer, having a remote expert guide the customer through the task. VR has also proven to be a compelling medium for convincing policyholders to take the proper measures in case of a flood or fire by showing them the potential damage.

At GE Transportation, training doesn’t always mean a brand new person needing to learn a brand new process, not when you’re dealing with 20,000 locomotive SKUs that ship all over the world. So, GE is using AR/VR to design and build kits of locomotive parts for operators, thinking through the presentation of these kits and how they align to manufacturing or service processes. From a plant layout perspective, VR is also incredibly useful for designing and planning operations. 

Finally at Gensler, visualization technologies are impacting how architects design and develop structures of every kind. The architecture and design firm is also considering how these tools will impact the places it designs as those buildings and environments mature. The environments we work in are increasingly contributing to the jobs we do, so Gensler is thinking about the future: AR/VR will influence the structures we design (not just help design them) because of the way they will fundamentally change how we consume information.

Just in Time: AR/VR Spark a Digital Renaissance in Aviation and Aerospace

About 20 years ago, Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company, identified the need for a hands-free, heads-up technology in its operations. Flash forward to 2014, when a device fitting this vision (Google Glass) finally appeared on the scene. Today, the aviation and aerospace industries are experiencing a digital renaissance, and the timing is critical for several reasons:

Demand is high

Demand is being driven by two factors: 1) Rapidly aging fleets that need to be replaced or maintained at great cost; and 2) New, more technologically advanced aircraft needed to stay competitive. (Boeing, for one, has a backlog of some 5,000 planes it is under contract to build.) Next-generation aircraft boast features like advanced avionics, noise reduction capabilities, improved interior cabin designs, and greater fuel efficiency. Aviation and aerospace companies are under pressure to ramp up production to replace customers’ older fleets and supply them with state-of-the-art vehicles. And, of course, as demand for new aircraft rises so too does the need to operate and maintain those crafts.

A talent gap is creating a need for fast, low-cost training

As in pretty much all manufacturing sectors, the aviation and aerospace industries are dealing with a skilled labor crunch as experienced workers retire and leave the workforce, taking their careers’ worth of knowledge with them. By some estimates, the aerospace industry is going to need to attract and train nearly 700,000 new maintenance technicians alone by the year 2035. More jobs are being created and more baby boomers retiring than can be filled or replaced by new workers. Aerospace manufacturers and suppliers are therefore looking for innovative technologies to maximize the productivity of their existing workforces and quickly onboard new workers.

The stakes are high: Operations are complex, downtime is costly, safety is crucial, and the market is competitive

Building aircraft (commercial airplanes, military jets, spacecraft, etc.) and the engines and propulsion units that drive them involves extremely complex processes in which thousands of moving parts are assembled in precise order, carefully inspected, and maintained for years. Speed is desirable to meet demand and for competitive advantage, yet there can be no compromise or negligence when it comes to accuracy and safety—after all, we’re talking about aircraft that transport hundreds of passengers across oceans or even dodge enemy missiles at over 1,000 mph. Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed Martin and other large firms are all vying to sell to the U.S. Department of Defense, NASA and large airlines (the aviation, aerospace and defense industries’ biggest U.S. customers;) so errors and downtime are, of course, expensive and bad for business, and can also greatly affect human lives.


To accelerate production, close the talent gap, reduce errors, limit downtime, and improve safety; the leading aviation and aerospace companies are employing wearable technology, especially smart (Augmented Reality) glasses. In general, smart glasses are good for complex industrial processes that are very hands-on, time-consuming, error-prone, and loaded with information—processes like wiring an electrical system or installing the cabin of an airplane. AR glasses and VR headsets are proving useful in aircraft assembly, quality and safety inspection, field maintenance and repair, and training. The technology is providing aviation and aerospace workers with instant, hands-free access to critical information, and reducing training requirements for technicians and operators alike. Here’s how some of the aerospace giants are applying wearable tech in their operations:

Airbus

In 2015, the French aerospace company teamed up with Accenture on a proof of concept in which technicians at Airbus’ Toulouse plant used industrial-grade smart glasses to reduce the complexity of the cabin furnishing process on the A330 final assembly line, decreasing the time required to complete the task and improving accuracy.

Sans smart glasses, operators would have to go by complex drawings to mark the position of seats and other fittings on the cabin floor. With Augmented Reality, a task that required several people over several days can be completed by a single worker in a matter of hours, with millimeter precision and 0 errors.

Airbus went ahead with this application: Technicians today use Vuzix smart glasses to bring up individual cabin plans, customization information and other AR items over their view of the cabin marking zone. The solution also validates each mark that is made, checking for accuracy and quality. The aerospace giant is looking to expand its use of smart glasses to other aircraft assembly lines (ex. in mounting flight equipment on the No. 2 A330neo) and other Airbus divisions.

Boeing

Every Boeing plane contains thousands of wires that connect its different electrical systems. Workers construct large portions of this wiring – “wire harnesses” – at a time—a seemingly monumental task demanding intense concentration. For years, they worked off PDF-based assembly instructions on laptops to locate the right wires and connect them in the right sequence. This requires shifting one’s hands and attention constantly between the harness being wired and the “roadmap” on the computer screen.

In 2016, Boeing carried out a Google Glass pilot with Upskill (then APX Labs,) in which the company saw a 25% improvement in performance in wire harness assembly. Today, the company is using smart glasses powered by Upskill’s Skylight platform to deliver heads-up, hands-free instructions to wire harness workers in real time, helping them work faster with an error rate of nearly zero. Technicians use gesture and voice commands to view the assembly roadmap for each order in their smart glasses display, access instructional videos, and receive remote expert assistance.

Boeing believes the technology could be used anywhere its workers rely on paper instructions, helping the company deliver planes faster. AR/VR are also significantly cutting training times and assisting with product development. For instance, HoloLens is proving useful in the development of Starliner, a small crew transport module for the ISS.

Boeing’s Brian Laughlin will lead a thought-provoking closing brainstorm on Day One of EWTS Fall 2017

GE Aviation

General Electric is using Augmented Reality and other IoT technologies in multiple areas of its far-ranging operations. At GE Aviation, mechanics recently tested a solution consisting of Upskill’s AR platform on Glass Enterprise Edition and a connected (WiFi-enabled) torque wrench.

The pilot involved 15 mechanics at GE Aviation’s Cincinnati manufacturing facility, each receiving step-by-step instructions and guiding visuals via Glass during routine engine assembly and maintenance tasks. At any step requiring the use of the smart wrench, the Skylight solution ensured the worker tightened the bolt properly, automatically verifying and recording every torqued nut in real time.

GE Aviation mechanics normally use paper- or computer-based instructions for tasks, and have to walk away from the job whenever they need to document their work. With smart glasses, workers were 8-12% more efficient, able to follow instructions in their line of sight and automatically document steps thanks to the device’s built-in camera. And reducing errors in assembly and maintenance saves GE and its customers millions of dollars.

Lockheed Martin

In early 2015 it came out that Lockheed Martin was trialing the Epson Moverio BT-200 glasses with partner NGRAIN, to provide real-time visuals to its engineers during assembly of the company’s F-35 fighter jets and ensure every component be installed in the right place. Previously, only a team of experienced technicians could do the job, but with Augmented Reality an engineer with little training can follow renderings with part numbers and ordered instructions seen as overlay images through his/her smart glasses, right on the plane being built.

In the trial, Lockheed engineers were able to work 30% faster and with 96% accuracy. Those workers were learning by doing on the job as opposed to training in a classroom environment, which amounted to less time and cost for training. And although increased accuracy means fewer repairs, the AR solution could be used to speed up the repair process, too, from days- to just hours-long, with one engineer annotating another’s field of view. At the time, however, Lockheed acknowledged that getting the technology onto actual (secured) military bases would be difficult.

Lockheed is also interested in Virtual Reality, seeing AR/VR as key to lowering acquisition costs (all costs from the design/construction phase of a ship to when the vessel is decommissioned.) The company is applying VR to the design of radar systems for navy ships. The challenge lies in integrating the radar system with a ship’s other systems, which requires very precise installation. VR can help identify errors and issues during the design stage and prevent expensive corrections.

Using HTC Vive headsets, engineers can virtually walk through digital mock-ups of a ship’s control rooms and assess things like accessibility to equipment and lighting. Lockheed is also using Microsoft’s HoloLens to assist young naval engineers with maintenance tasks at sea—much more effective than a dense manual.

*Learn more about this application from Richard Rabbitz of Lockheed Martin Rotary Mission Systems (RMS) at EWTS Fall ‘17

Lockheed is allegedly saving $10 million a year from its use of AR/VR in the production line of its space assets, as well, by using devices like the Oculus Rift to evaluate human factors and catch engineering mistakes early. For the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and GPS 3 satellite system, Lockheed ran virtual simulations in which a team of engineers rehearsed assembling the vehicles in order to identify issues and improvements. A network platform allows engineers from all over to participate, saving the time and money of travelling.

Last but not least, Lockheed Martin is also actively developing and testing commercial industrial exoskeletons. Keith Maxwell, the Senior Product Manager of Exoskeleton Technologies at Lockheed, attested to this at the Spring 2017 EWTS. The FORTIS exoskeleton is an unpowered, lightweight suit, the arm of which – the Fortis Tool Arm – is available as a separate product for operating heavy power tools with less risk of muscle fatigue and injury.


While Augmented Reality has been around for decades in the form of pilots’ HMDs, only now has the technology advanced enough to become a standard tool of engineers, mechanics and aircraft operators across aviation and aerospace operations. In a high-tech industry like aerospace, AR/VR are critical for keeping up production during a mass talent exodus from the workforce. Workers won’t need years of experience to build a plane if they have on-demand access to instructions, reference materials, tutorials and expert help in their field of view.

 

The Fall Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit 2017 taking place October 18-19, 2017 in Boston, MA is the leading event for wearable technology in enterprise. It is also the only true enterprise event in the wearables space, with the speakers and audience members hailing from top enterprise organizations across the industry spectrum. Consisting of real-world case studies, engaging workshops, and expert-led panel discussions on such topics as enterprise applications for Augmented and Virtual Reality, head-mounted displays, and body-worn devices, plus key challenges, best practices, and more; EWTS is the best opportunity for you to hear and learn from those organizations who have successfully utilized wearables in their operations. 

How Your Business Can Prepare for an Augmented Reality Future

Whether you believe Apple’s latest announcements mark the arrival of mainstream Augmented Reality or still think mass use of AR is years away; smart (AR) glasses are the future. The question is how long we will hold onto our smartphones for (and yes, which device and/or platform will tip the technology in the consumer market’s favor.)

Just as glasses are the ultimate form factor for workers in factories, out in the field, in the O.R., etc.; heads-up and hands-free is ideal for consumers. The biggest problem with our phones is that we carry them everywhere and are constantly looking down at them. AR will not only provide better contextual information to enrich our daily lives, but it will also revive an element of society that today can feel somewhat foreign compared to texting or email (especially to Millennials;) and that is face-to-face human interaction. (FaceTime doesn’t count.)

So why aren’t people more eager to free their hands and gaze from a hand-held screen? Smartwatches seem to have broken into the mainstream or are at least accepted by consumers. What is it about putting on a pair of glasses? It’s not just aesthetics and privacy concerns. In enterprise, you identify a problem in the workplace – some source of inefficiency – that AR can address; but when the work day is done, what is the problem that AR would fix, that would motivate us to finally give up our phones beyond sheer convenience or entertainment? I can only guess as it’s outside my area of expertise.

Nevertheless, one day AR glasses will be acceptable outside the workplace, and once that happens a whole new world of enterprise applications will open up—those applications that depend upon consumers owning/wearing glasses and headsets, and not necessarily as often as they carry their smartphones now.

 

So, what can enterprises do in the meantime, while waiting for consumer AR glasses to take off?

1) Provide the experience for the customer or partner, like “HaaS” (hardware as a service) or an in-store demo. Some architects, realtors, automotive companies, major retailers and even airlines are already doing this, and some manufacturers are supplying customers with smart glasses to facilitate remote equipment troubleshooting and customer support.

2) Share the benefits of smart glasses with the customer/partner. Ex. HVAC worker wearing smart glasses to a job to let the customer see the problem or service in real time; a store salesperson doing the same to help an online shopper make a purchasing decision; a flight attendant viewing information about a passenger to provide better, more personalized service; doctors wearing glasses with patients, etc.

Or 3) Start with a mobile app or create a 360-degree video with the intent of making it heads-up in AR or VR in the future. While this can be very expensive (a 360˚ video can cost anywhere between $10,000 and $100,000 to produce, according to Forrester Research,) it puts the organization in the best position to capitalize on these technologies in different form factors and environments down the road. Until then, the videos can be shared on social media, at pop-up events, on the company website, etc.

 

Some example use cases:

Hyundai

In dealerships across Australia, Hyundai has introduced the Hyundai AR Showroom app for the iPad, a sales tool for dealers to show car shoppers the built-in safety and performance features of the “all-new i30.”

The app, created by Auggd, allows the salesperson to demonstrate features of Hyundai’s reinvented hatchback that are normally difficult to explain in a showroom environment (without having multiple vehicles on the floor.) By holding up an iPad in front of the real i30, shoppers can manipulate a 3D model overlay of the car; they can change its appearance and accessory options, and view animations of safety features like autonomous emergency braking and lane-keeping assist.

It seems Hyundai has been making an effort to get both its customers and representatives familiar with Augmented Reality. In early 2016, the South Korean automaker created an AR owner’s manual for some of its more popular models. The manual app and new Hyundai AR Showroom app could easily transition to glasses or a headset in the future for a more immersive and effective experience. These apps are also providing Hyundai with valuable consumer insights.

Wayfair

This Boston-based online furniture and home goods retailer envisions its customers one day shopping for Wayfair products at home using Mixed Reality headsets. In the meantime, the company’s R&D team Wayfair Next has created WayfairView, a mobile app that leverages Google’s Augmented Reality technology Tango along with Wayfair’s growing library of 3D product models. The app lets users view full-scale virtual models of furniture and décor in their homes with an AR-capable smartphone; they can look at items from multiple angles, see whether a piece of furniture will fit in a room, etc. before buying.

For over a year now, Wayfair has been visualizing millions of its home products in 3D. The models are currently used in the shopping app and on the company’s website but are ultimately destined for a headset.

*Mike Festa, Director of Wayfair Next, will speak at EWTS Fall 2017

Excedrin

Virtual Reality is a powerful storytelling medium, which is why it makes for great marketing as well as an effective job training tool. After the success of last year’s online “Migraine Experience” campaign in which users could experience migraine symptoms like blurry vision and flashing lights through AR filters; Excedrin created “Excedrin Works,” a new VR video campaign from the P.O.V. of real migraine sufferers at work.

The 2016 AR campaign saw close to 400,000 social engagements. The latest VR one is expected to be even more engaging, driving home the medication brand’s purpose and driving sales. By appealing to human emotions, Excedrin is hoping viewers will understand how crippling migraines can be and why its product is necessary.

The two VR videos, created with Weber Shandwick and Hogarth, can be found on Excedrin’s website and YouTube channel. To round out the campaign, the company is also running several documentary-style videos on TV and social media, and collaborating with race car driver Danica Patrick to share her history of migraines.

Tesco

The British supermarket chain has dropped a few hints that Virtual Reality is the future of shopping at Tesco. Way back in 2011, the company partnered with Cheil Worldwide to “open” a virtual supermarket in South Korea: An entire wall of a Korean subway station was made to appear like rows of shelves in a market, containing Tesco products with QR codes that commuters could scan to buy groceries on their phones. (After a long workday, it would be nice to get the food shopping done while waiting for your train—Tesco even arranged for deliveries to take place the same night.)

The subway experiment provided Tesco with insight for growing its business in SK. Around 2014, the grocery chain again used VR for R&D, wanting to improve its marketing and how it merchandized and reorganized stores. The company collaborated with Figure Digital on an Oculus Rift demo video called “Tesco Pelé” in which customers wearing VR headsets shop in a virtual supermarket, the layout of which represented an actual Tesco store design up for review. At the end of the simulation, the wearer steps onto a pro soccer field.

The possibilities here include, of course, virtual grocery shopping and consumer research; but the Pelé element (famous soccer player) suggests opportunities for corporate sponsorships, as well.

Lowe’s 

Like Wayfair, Lowe’s wants to be ready for the day when consumers use their own AR glasses and VR headsets. In Fall 2016, the home improvement chain debuted Lowe’s Vision, an app powered by Tango that lets customers measure any room in their homes and design it with virtual Lowe’s products using the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro phone.

In Spring 2017, Lowe’s began piloting Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation, another Tango-powered app, in two of its stores. This second AR app makes it easier to shop for your home improvement project: Customers can use any Tango-enabled smartphone (or demo one with a sales associate) to search for products, read reviews, create shopping lists, and find the most efficient route to items throughout the store with the help of digital directions overlaid onto the real world.

One of the first AR/VR ideas to come out of Lowe’s Innovation Labs was the Holoroom in 2014/15. Now available in select stores, it’s essentially a how-to section in the store where shoppers can put on the HTC Vive headset and practice home improvement projects like tiling a bathroom in virtual reality.

Lowe’s is onto something in exposing its customers to emerging technologies that transition from their homes into actual Lowe’s stores, helping them with their home improvement projects from start to finish.

 

So how can your business prepare for an AR future? This is a time for innovation. Augmented and Virtual Reality represent new paradigms for sharing and taking in information. The same factors that make the technology ideal for workers – heads-up and hands-free, immersive, proven to be a superior learning method – can work for your customers and partners–figure out their pain points just as you would in determining a great use case for your workforce.How might AR/VR make it easier or more appealing for consumers to interact with your brand, seek your services, buy (and use) your product, etc.? Consider the scenario in which the business provides AR glasses for the customer/partner as well as the future one in which consumers have access to their own devices. What can you do now to begin forming a bridge between those two scenarios? 

 

About EWTS Fall 2017:

The Fall Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit 2017 taking place October 18-19, 2017 in Boston, MA is the leading event for wearable technology in enterprise. It is also the only true enterprise event in the wearables space, with the speakers and audience members hailing from top enterprise organizations across the industry spectrum. Consisting of real-world case studies, engaging workshops, and expert-led panel discussions on such topics as enterprise applications for Augmented and Virtual Reality, head-mounted displays, and body-worn devices, plus key challenges, best practices, and more; EWTS is the best opportunity for you to hear and learn from those organizations who have successfully utilized wearables in their operations. 

 

photo credit: dronepicr Kölner Dom aus Lego Gamescom via photopin (license)

Consumer Wearables That Could Work For Your Business

For this article, I went shopping—online, that is. I’m an enterprise wearables expert, and I must admit I don’t know much about consumer wearables. I work out regularly but don’t own a fitness tracker, and haven’t worn my Apple Watch in months. But I suspect there is enterprise potential in many of the wearable devices available to consumers today, so I did some web browsing.

Consumer wearables fall into several categories, including brain-sensing headbands and smart jewelry. I searched for devices in each category that might be useful in enterprise settings. Keep in mind that I have not tried many of these wearables myself but assuming they deliver on what they’re advertised to do, here’s what I found:

 

Arm/Wristbands

Myo by Thalmic Labs

Myo is an armband that lets the wearer control other connected devices using gesture and motion. With SDKs available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, developers have a lot of freedom to build applications for Myo, beyond just controlling a smartphone or delivering a presentation. For instance, surgeons in Spain are using the device to navigate medical records while in the O.R. Think of it as a touch-free mouse for your technology.

RE-vibe by FokusLabs

RE-vibe is an anti-distraction wristband that uses gentle vibrations at strategic intervals to keep the wearer attentive and on-task. The technology “encourages mindfulness while studying or at work.” I can only picture RE-vibe entering the workplace as a personal device, not as an employer-provided wearable. Those of us sitting at a desk right now have certainly struggled to focus after a restless night (and with all the political news taking over our Twitter feeds.)

Steer by Creative Mode

Like the SmartCap, this wrist wearable is designed to prevent drivers from falling asleep at the wheel. Steer detects changes in heart rate and skin conductance, establishing a baseline when the user first puts on the device and giving a warning – first a slight vibration, then a gentle shock – when those metrics fall to a certain degree below that line. The shock increases serotonin, cortisol and other hormones to keep the driver awake. Steer could be used as an alternative to SmartCap by companies interested in avoiding fatigue-related accidents on the job.

TouchPoints

Myo offers control, RE-vibe helps you focus, and Steer keeps you awake and alert—all potentially useful at work. TouchPoints offer stress relief in as little as 30 seconds, which would undoubtedly appeal to many workers. These stress-relieving, wrist-worn “neuroscientific wearables” work by reducing physical sensations and shifting “fight or flight” to alter the body’s stress mechanism. Work is often stressful—you might take a break or practice meditation, or you could use TouchPoints for fast relief right on your wrist.

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Patches and Clip-ons

Wearsafe by Wearsafe Labs

Wearsafe is “a modern-day, mobile panic button” that can be clipped onto any piece of clothing. By pressing it, Wearsafe uses the wearer’s smartphone to instantly send an alert to friends and family. Wearsafe Labs’ website has an enterprise section, because “safe employees are productive employees.” In its pitch to employers, the company describes Wearsafe as a “safety service designed to connect and protect your staff” in case of an accident, incident or crisis. The dashboard Wearsafe.help combines alert management, dispatch aid and incident reporting.

Lumo Lift by Lumo BodyTech

Lumo Lift is a “posture coach and activity tracker.” Once you connect the device to the Lumo Lift app on your phone, you attach it to your shirt and set a target posture; every time you slouch thereafter, Lumo Lift vibrates to tell you to sit straighter. Lumo does market its product as a tool for corporate wellness programs, noting that back pain is a top reason for missed workdays and doctor visits as well as a leading cause of disability claims. The company already counts Facebook, ExxonMobil and Nestle among its customers.

Upright GO and Upright PRO by Upright Technologies

This wearable posture trainer also vibrates to correct the user’s posture, but it’s only meant to be worn (attached to the back with an adhesive) for short “training sessions” of up to 60 minutes a day. Users can review their progress on the connected app, and hopefully improve their posture over time. As stated on Upright’s website, 86% of U.S. workers sit for the entire workday, increasing their risk of obesity, musculoskeletal problems, and diabetes. Employers might consider investing in the Upright PRO or the newer Upright GO (simpler, single-sensor device) to help employees reduce back pain.

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Smart/Connected Clothing

There are many smart clothing products out there including socks and high-fashion pieces, but sensor-equipped exercise clothes clearly dominate. These garments track motion, heart rate, body temp and location; monitor air quality and UV exposure; and even pay for things. I don’t see why similar technology could not be incorporated into standard work uniforms. There are smart construction vests and other PPE designed for industry, so why not smart nursing scrubs or maintenance uniforms?

AiQ Smart Clothing

This company makes a range of smart clothing items, including an electronic heating garment that keeps wearers warm (ThermoMan;) clothing that lights up to provide visibility in dark surroundings (NeonMan;) and anti-radiation textiles (ShieldMan.) There are certainly enterprise use cases for tracking or regulating workers’ body temperature and keeping them safe in dark or nighttime conditions.

Lumo Run by Lumo BodyTech

Lumo also makes a device that clips onto running shorts—not exactly smart clothing but what it does is monitor cadence, ground contact time, pelvic rotation and stride length. The accompanying Lumo Run app supports real-time coaching, sending feedback to the user’s headphones. A similar feature in enterprise might give a worker advice for moving with “good ergonomics” in real time, right in her ear.  

Samsung NFC suit

According to Wareable, you can purchase this smart suit in Korea under Samsung’s wearable brand The Human Fit. The connected business suit allows the wearer to do things like unlock his phone and digitally swap business cards. I don’t see this idea catching on in America but wearable-enabled networking (perhaps activated by a handshake) is something I can get behind.

There have been efforts to monitor workers’ movement on the job, from their posture (see above) to how they lift heavy items. There are many form factors for gathering biometrics; and though it may be more accurate to take some measurements from one part of the body over another, work clothes and uniforms are prime, underdeveloped real estate for wearable sensors.

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Hearables/Wireless Earbuds

The ear has become another popular body part for fitness tracking, as well as for controlling smartphone features, noise cancelling/augmenting, and real-time translation. Those last two applications have real enterprise potential, in noisy workplaces and multilingual work scenarios.

Here One by Doppler Labs

These wireless Here Buds combine “premium audio” for music and calls, noise cancellation, speech enhancement, and Siri/Google Now controls. The user can control how he or she hears the world via the connected app—with layered listening, manipulation of real-world volume and sound, and smart noise filters. Here One is pricey and likely to remain in the realm of personal wearables (there are cheaper noise-cancelling devices out there;) yet if the noise altering features are as sophisticated as claimed, these earbuds could be ideal for blocking unwanted, distracting or distressing sounds at work while “keeping” the noise essential to one’s task.

Did you know that high-level noise, like that from factory equipment or heavy machinery on a job site, can actually damage your hearing? Tens of millions of Americans are occupationally exposed to harmful noise, which not only puts them at risk of hearing loss but also heart disease.

Pilot by Waverly Labs

This “real-time translation hearable” consists of earbuds that translate between two users speaking different languages. In the first earpiece, noise-cancelling microphones filter out ambient noise from the wearer who is talking, while the second earpiece returns the translation to the other person in real time. Speech recognition, machine learning and speech synthesis technologies do the actual translating through the Pilot app. Pilot pre-orders come with free access to Romance languages.

Translate One2One by Lingmo

This AI-powered earpiece claims to translate spoken conversation and written text within 3-5 seconds without relying on Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity. The solution uses IBM Watson’s Natural Language technology to help perform the translation, and currently supports English, Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, German and Chinese. Both the speaker and listener must be wearing an earpiece.

Clik by Mymanu

Marriott is reportedly interested in these wireless smart earphones to help staff at its hotels communicate with guests. Clik uses voice recognition technology to near instantly translate live conversation in 37 languages. On the companion smartphone app, users can download 9 language packs, which can be synced and stored on the buds. Like the previous product, Clik doesn’t require a data connection.

There are plenty of customer service and international business scenarios where in-ear translation could greatly improve communication, service and productivity. Hotel staff might better serve foreign-speaking guests, negotiations with foreign business partners might go more smoothly, and colleagues speaking different languages might be able to better collaborate on projects, etc.

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Smart Jewelry

Personal Safety Wearables

Many of the personal safety wearables are designed for and marketed to women and the elderly, but the ones that follow – like Wearsafe – could potentially be worn by lone (travelling) workers such as in-home caregivers and utilities workers.

Nimb Ring

This smart ring works as a panic button, tracking the wearer’s location and sending an emergency alert when pressed through the Nimb app to a pre-managed group of responders.

Apple Watch

With the watchOS 3 update, Apple has added an SOS mode to its smartwatch. By holding down the side button, Apple Watch will attempt to call local emergency services either via cellular (if your iPhone is nearby) or over Wi-Fi. A text message can also be sent to preset SOS contacts after the call ends.

RapidSOS

This emerging technology startup recently announced partnerships with several wearable tech companies allowing them to link their wearable products to RapidSOS’s advanced emergency platform.

Smart Rings

The finger is another spot for activity tracking, viewing smartphone notifications, and contactless payments.

OURA

According to OURA’s website, our fingers provide more accurate activity tracking than our wrists. This “sleep tracker and wellness ring ” senses arteries in the fingers to provide insight into how users’ lifestyle choices affect their sleep and performance. Employers should be concerned about how much sleep employees are getting, especially in jobs where fatigue might threaten worker safety or lead to costly errors. Should truck drivers, for instance, show up for work when they’re overtired? What about your heavy machinery operators or store employees who need to make a good impression on your customers? Lack of sleep negatively impacts one’s daily performance, slowing productivity and increasing the likelihood of having an on-the-job accident.

NFC Ring

This smart ring can be used to unlock your mobile devices or even your door (if you have an NFC-enabled door lock.) It can share and transfer information such as links, photos and contacts, control smartphone applications, and make payments. As mobile payments become more mainstream, I wonder what will become of our plastic credit cards. What if instead of a store credit card, a retailer offered a store smart ring or another wearable payment method just for use in its stores. Visa has been experimenting with creating different types of wearable payments, including a ring and a wearable sticker; and Tappy Technologies is a company that embeds payment functionality in watches and jewelry. Tappy has its own smart payment ring and also provides its technology to jewelry companies to develop their own products.

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Brain-Sensing Wearables

This category appears focused on improving mental well-being, sleep and even dreams; stimulating the mind during tasks; or helping with memory and performance—all of which have obvious implications for our work lives. Most of the devices use EEG technology and are not medically approved.    

Thync Relax Pro

Thync bills its product as “the first consumer health solution for lowering stress and anxiety.” This small triangular device worn at the back of the neck uses low-level electrical stimulation to activate nerves affecting the brain’s adrenaline system. The simulation patterns trigger natural mechanisms that relax the wearer, and improve mood and sleep.

Lowdown Focus by Smith Optics

These smart sunglasses use brain-sensing technology to help athletes and other active users perform well under pressure through “mental training sessions.” The technology measures brain activity and provides cues to the wearer for becoming more calm, relaxed and focused.

Brainstation by Neuroverse

Neuroverse has apparently been working on Brainstation, a small oval wearable that adheres to the forehead, for several years now. The device puts the wearer through a series of “brain training games” designed to promote neuroplasticity, or the forming of new connections in the brain. EEG sensors detect certain neural markers to monitor the games’ effects on the user’s reaction times, attention span, memory and decision making. Neuroverse also opened its API for Brainstation VR, a version of its solution that would enable mind control of objects and actions in Virtual Reality and that works with game engines like Unity.

 

Final verdict: While it’s certainly advantageous to be aware of what’s available on the consumer side – especially if you have a specific EHS or employee well-being concern in the workplace – consumer wearables seem to enter and disappear from the marketplace at a much higher rate than enterprise devices. There are many crowdfunding campaigns and nearly all of the devices have to be paired with a smartphone app. My sense is that the consumer wearable tech market is a bit fickle because it’s still trying to understand the end user. As an enterprise, I’d worry about investing in 500 devices that may not have an ecosystem to support them within a year. Looking at consumer wearables, however, is less about finding actual products to use in your organization today than getting a sense of what wearable technologies are capable of and how wearable companies are attempting to augment and empower human beings.  

 

About EWTS Fall 2017:

The Fall Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit 2017 taking place October 18-19, 2017 in Boston, MA is the leading event for wearable technology in enterprise. It is also the only true enterprise event in the wearables space, with the speakers and audience members hailing from top enterprise organizations across the industry spectrum. Consisting of real-world case studies, engaging workshops, and expert-led panel discussions on such topics as enterprise applications for Augmented and Virtual Reality, head-mounted displays, and body-worn devices, plus key challenges, best practices, and more; EWTS is the best opportunity for you to hear and learn from those organizations who have successfully utilized wearables in their operations. 

photo credit: oooOOC Ringly Launch Collection 01 – LR via photopin (license)

Why the Logistics Industry is Going Hands-Free

The logistics industry has been thinking hands-free for years now. In my research for this blog post, I came across an article from 2007 on the use of voice headsets and arm-mounted computers in the warehouse. More recently, ABI Research found that 61% of logistics companies it surveyed are adopting wearable technologies as part of their technology innovation strategy. In addition to logistics companies, enterprises in other verticals are using wearables within their warehouse or supply chain operations. Below are some of the top use cases:

 

DHL

The number one wearable use case in the logistics industry today is arguably vision picking with Augmented Reality glasses like Google Glass and the Vuzix M300. DHL has been exploring wearables with its customers and in different units of its business for several years. In 2014 with the help of Ubimax, DHL Supply Chain and DHL customer Ricoh carried out a successful vision picking pilot in a warehouse in the Netherlands.

For the pilot, staff went about their picking duties, taking cues from simple graphics and text displayed in smart glasses to navigate the warehouse and locate each pick. The glasses allowed for hands-free order picking, which sped up the picking process and reduced errors.

Using Ubimax’s vision picking solution, DHL and Ricoh realized a 25% efficiency increase over the course of the three-week trial. Exel, a unit of Deutsche Post DHL Group, achieved similar results the following year when it gave smart glasses to workers in two of its U.S. warehouses. In August 2016, DHL Supply Chain announced it was expanding its “Vision Picking Program,” with additional pilot sites established across Europe and the U.S.

In addition to picking and e-fulfillment, DHL sees potential in using AR and smart eyewear in other areas, including transportation, last mile delivery, and training of seasonal or temporary workers. In November 2016, Fujitsu announced a partnership with DHL Supply Chain UK to develop innovative services around wearable technology and the Internet of Things.

*Justin Ha, Director of Solutions Design at DHL Supply Chain, will be speaking at EWTS Fall 2017.

UPS

Way back in 2011, UPS adopted a wearable package scanning system consisting of a ring scanner plus a small wrist- or hip-worn terminal, both by Motorola Solutions. The goal was to speed up the time it takes to load packages, prevent misloads, and improve package tracking and data reliability. UPS rolled out tens of thousands of these devices. Of course, today there is more sophisticated technology: Smart glasses, often paired with ring scanners (for items on very low or high-up shelves,) are the new wearable scanning system and the new interface for logistics software.

In 2015, it was reported that UPS was testing smart glass technology to reduce the amount of labeling on packages. Instead of two labels on every package (an address label and a second label identifying the delivery route and truck;) a single barcoded address label could be used that – when scanned with Google Glass – would inform the package sorter of the box’s destination. This simplifies the job and allows workers to be more hands-free.

Currently, UPS is developing and rolling out a Virtual Reality driver training program at nine of its training facilities, to simulate the uncertainties and challenges of city driving. Wearing an HTC Vive or other VR headset, students will go through a virtual streetscape, using voice commands to identify road hazards. The VR training modules are designed for package delivery drivers but in the future UPS plans to expand the tech’s use to tractor trailer workers.

FedEx 

Every second counts when you handle millions of packages a day, which is why the shipping giants were early adopters of wireless technologies and why they continue to pursue the latest in mobile—for the opportunity to shave off seconds from the delivery process.

Since 2000, FedEx parcel handlers were equipped with ring scanners connected via Bluetooth to a device worn on their forearms. Similar to the system used at UPS, the wireless solution scanned each package and provided tactile feedback when a parcel was placed in the wrong container.

On top of supply chain efficiency, FedEx is also interested in wearable technology for the overall safety of the workforce. Its aircraft were equipped with heads-up displays (HUDs) to improve pilots’ situational awareness during night flights and bad weather conditions; and the logistics giant is exploring wearable wellness monitoring.

Crane Worldwide Logistics

From faster picking to better posture: Crane Worldwide Logistics, a large third-party logistics company, tried out a wearable device by KINETIC to reduce the number of ergonomic injuries among its workforce.

Back injuries, strains and sprains are the most frequent and costly injuries in warehouses and other industrial workplaces. REFLEX is a discreet wearable worn on one’s belt or waistband that automatically detects unsafe postures, providing instant feedback to the wearer whenever a high-risk motion occurs. In so doing, the solution helps teach workers how to move safely or use “good biomechanics” on the job.

Using REFLEX, Crane was able to reduce the number of unsafe postures at its Houston, TX distribution facility (where the KINETIC pilot took place) by 84%. The “most improved” worker saw a 96% reduction, from 320 bad postures in a day to just 12.

Bechtle 

Bechtle is one of Europe’s leading IT service providers. In January 2016, after extensive piloting, the company announced the deployment of Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses for vision picking at its distribution center in Neckarsulm, Germany.

Warehouse employees began using smart glasses running the mobile SAP AR Warehouse Picker app and connected to Bechtle’s WMS as an alternative to handheld scanners in select picking processes. The hands-free solution, featuring QR code scanning and voice recognition technology, guided the wearer through the picking process step-by-step without the need for any manual input of information.

This was the first of many potential use cases for smart glasses that Bechtle intended to pursue. The company believed the benefits of Augmented Reality could be reaped most quickly applied to a simple, labor-intensive process like the picking of small parts, though it plans to expand the use of wearables to additional workflows in receiving, complex delivery orders and more.

Sennheiser 

In November 2016, global service provider Arvato partnered with Picavi to launch a vision picking project for audio company Sennheiser. For the purposes of the pilot, a separate pick process was identified in order to evaluate Picavi’s Pick-by-Vision solution in a controlled environment.

Initial feedback from warehouse employees was positive. Having all essential task-based information displayed in front of their eyes through smart glasses allowed pickers to keep both hands on the job, which minimized errors and helped them stack the pallets faster. Workers also found the new pick solution intuitive to use and comfortable to wear while moving around the warehouse.

 

It seems a consensus has been reached after all these vision picking pilots, and that is that smart glasses are setting a new bar in the classic order picking process. Augmented Reality has proved superior to basic handheld scanners and tiring voice picking systems.

Beyond order picking, AR glasses can replace traditional tools in receiving, packing, shipping and replenishment–all areas of the warehouse or distribution center. A wearable device could conceivably “accompany” a package from the moment an order is received to the moment it’s loaded onto the truck for delivery, ensuring a smooth and accurate flow of goods all along the supply chain as well as the safety of all pickers, packers, drivers and other package handlers.

 

About EWTS Fall 2017:

The Fall Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit 2017 taking place October 18-19, 2017 in Boston, MA is the leading event for wearable technology in enterprise. It is also the only true enterprise event in the wearables space, with the speakers and audience members hailing from top enterprise organizations across the industry spectrum. Consisting of real-world case studies, engaging workshops, and expert-led panel discussions on such topics as enterprise applications for Augmented and Virtual Reality, head-mounted displays, and body-worn devices, plus key challenges, best practices, and more; EWTS is the best opportunity for you to hear and learn from those organizations who have successfully utilized wearables in their operations. 

 

photo credit: vic_206 DHL Air / Airbus A300B4-622R(F) / EI-OZM via photopin (license)

The Inevitable Rise of Google Glass 2.0

The use cases mentioned in Wired’s breaking story about Google Glass 2.0 are supreme examples of Google Glass’ success in the workplace. AGCO, Boeing, DHL and GE are certainly major companies validating the benefits of Glass to enterprise. Their stories have been shared here on EnterpriseWear as well as at every Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit.

(See Wearables in Manufacturing: Interview with AGCO’s Peggy Gulick  ; Wearables in Industry: Interview with GE’s Sam Murley ; and Wearables in Logistics: Now or Later?)

But there have been numerous use cases by big and small companies alike since Glass made its ill-fated consumer debut in 2012. Not all those early explorations were developed further; some of the first experiments were simply small, short pilots that were subsequently dropped because the tech wasn’t ready or because the company may not have had the resources, connections or patience of a Boeing or GE. But it was those cases that taught Google a big lesson, encouraging the company to direct its attention to the enterprise and get to work on what would ultimately become Google Glass Enterprise Edition.

While companies like GE and Boeing have been clandestinely using Google Glass EE for a while now, it’s worth looking back at some of the earliest – and incredibly imaginative – test runs of Google Glass Explorer Edition:

Airports & Airlines

  • In one of the most publicized early trials, Virgin Atlantic agents at London’s Heathrow Airport used Google Glass to process first-class passengers for their flights while maintaining eye contact with them.
  • At Copenhagen Airport, the device was used by airport duty managers to document issues and answer travelers’ questions on the spot.
  • Japan Airlines had personnel on the tarmac at Honolulu Airport wear Glass so that staff at headquarters could perform remote visual inspections of planes and send instructions.

Doctors

  • Dr. Rafael Grossmann was the first to use Google Glass during live surgery.
  • Glass was tested at Stanford University Medical Center to guide residents through surgery, at UC San Francisco to broadcast surgeries for faculty and students to watch, and at UC Irvine Medical Center to monitor anesthesia residents.
  • At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, four ER doctors used the glasses in lieu of tablets to get real-time clinical information.
  • Dr. Peter Chai used the technology in ED to facilitate remote consultations in dermatological cases.
  • Several physicians and administrators at Mayo Clinic tested Glass in different specialties and departments for viewing patient info, documenting injuries, and learning.
  • Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital used Glass as an aid in a tumor removal and abdominal wall reconstruction procedure. IU Health’s Paul Szotek also livestreamed a hernia repair with the device.
  • Chicago-based MedEx had its paramedics use Glass to communicate with specialists from the ambulance and show ER doctors the status of incoming patients in real time.

*Dr. Szotek will talk about his experiences since that first livestream at the Fall 2017 Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit.

Rogers-O’Brien Construction

  • The Texas-based general contractor used Google Glass to capture, share and collaborate on jobsite information hands-free. It was an early foray for the company, which has since experimented and adopted all kinds of emerging technologies including VR headsets and partial exoskeletons.

*Todd Wynne and Joe Williams of Rogers-O’Brien are also speaking at the fall event.

Car Companies

  • In a pilot project at one of BMW’s U.S. plants, Google Glass was tested for quality assurance, used by workers to document potential defects and improve communication between the quality testers and development engineers.
  • GM experimented with the device in quality inspection and as a tool for viewing procedural instructions. 

Food Industry

  • Several restaurant chains have tested Glass for training purposes: KFC tried out the device to record tutorials and play them back for new recruits. Similarly, Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop used Glass to record new workers’ performance and the lunchtime rush, hoping to spot areas for improvement.

QAD

  • The global ERP software company used short video interviews recorded with Glass to introduce new employees to team members outside of the corporate office.

Las Vegas Air Conditioning

  • The HVAC company was one of the first to have its technicians wear Google Glass on jobs, to live stream their work for the customer to see.

Sullivan Solar Power

  • The Southern California company’s field technicians wore Glass to safely (hands-free) view specs and plans while installing solar panels atop homes and businesses.

Schlumberger

  • The oilfield service company tried out 30 pairs of Google Glass to provide hands-free intelligence to workers in the field, improving their safety and efficiency.

Active Ants

  • Stock pickers at the Dutch e-fulfillment company were able to reduce their error rate by 12% and increase their speed by 15% using Glass.

San Francisco’s de Young Museum

  • One of the first museums to integrate Google Glass into an art exhibit: Visitors used the tech to gain more insight into the artist and featured works in de Young’s 2014/15 Keith Haring show.

Fennemore Craig (now Lamber Goodnow)

  • Two attorneys at the personal injury law firm used Google Glass to win cases, loaning the device to clients so they could record a day in their lives post-injury.

 

Find out just how much Google Glass has progressed – both the hardware and applications – since those early days at the upcoming Fall 2017 Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit, where real end-users will speak about their “secret” deployments of the technology.

 

photo credit: jurvetson Sergey Brin Solves for X via photopin (license)

Top 3 Applications for Wearable Technology and Augmented Reality in the Automotive Industry

Written by Special Guest Blogger Randy Nunez, Tech Trend Lead, Extended Reality IT Enterprise Technology – Research, Ford Motor Company

As wearables become more pervasive in the consumer market, their use in the enterprise will also expand.  While wearable solutions such as fitness bands and smartwatches can be useful, I think that smart eyewear will have a greater impact in the business environment than for consumers.  Providing information on demand in a hands-free format is a powerful capability that smart eyewear brings to the workplace.

Outlined here are what I consider the top three use cases for wearable technology/AR in the automotive industry.  In this case the target audience is the employee or contractor within the organization, so these use cases could apply to other industries as well.

  1. Guided instructions

Adding digital or virtual content while in the real world to provide step-by-step instructions for procedures or workflows is a key use case.  This information could be as simple as text, images, or videos in monocular eyewear that is ‘glanceable’.  In certain environments like the plant floor or a warehouse facility, having a less immersive solution, sometimes called assisted reality, enables the information to be provided while the wearer maintains awareness of the environment around them.   A more immersive solution, typically for more stationary activities, can use binocular eyewear and augmented or mixed reality.  This can provide a digital information overlaid over a real-world object or an ‘underlay’ which provides an x-ray-like view into parts and subsystems within a fully assembled product.  Some use case examples include parts picking, inspections, assembly/disassembly and repairs.

  1. See-What-I-See/Remote expert

Using smart eyewear in conjunction with video/audio collaboration software can connect local users with remote experts to provide real-time guidance.  One advantage of smart eyewear is its hands-free nature that allows the local user to continue to work.  Some systems allow screen annotations to provide better visual clues for both parties. This could be low-tech, from marking up an image, to high-tech, which creates a 3D annotation in space that is locked in that position even if you change your view.  It has the potential to reduce travel and its associated expenses and decrease the time to resolve issues.  Some use case examples include facility or program launch/decommissioning and dealership service support.

  1. Design visualization

Visual 3D representation of a vehicle design can include physical prototypes made of clay or wood.  This can be expensive and time-consuming to create and modify.  Virtual reality can be used as an effective immersion tool, but augmented reality can add yet another dimension of realism to the process.  A vehicle buck (physical mock-up) could be overlaid with digital content, allowing the comparison of various designs and enabling real-time changes in attributes (color, size, etc.).   Digital ‘comments’ from a reviewer could be recorded in audio and text formats and anchored in the exact 3D location for later reference.  Some use cases include the design process as well as during design reviews.

While smart eyewear/AR technologies are still nascent, there is tremendous potential to change the way we work.  I also believe there are use cases for both monocular and binocular smart eyewear as well as the spectrum of augmented reality, from assisted to mixed.

 

*Randy will be speaking on a panel discussion around the applications for smart glasses and other head-worn devices in enterprise on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at the Spring Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit 2017 in San Diego, CA.