Manufacturing 4.0: Checking In with Expert Peggy Gulick of AGCO

A true enterprise wearable tech pioneer, Peggy Gulick, Director of Digital Transformation, Global Manufacturing at AGCO Corporation, spearheaded one of the most successful use cases of Google Glass in enterprise to date. Where others saw challenges, Peggy and her team saw opportunities to turn a device that was then (2013) struggling to find a purpose into a powerful lean manufacturing tool. We last interviewed Peggy in July of 2016, before she first graced the EWTS stage. Since then, AGCO has become a poster child of Glass Enterprise, the second generation of Google Glass developed with the input of enterprise visionaries like Peggy; and Peggy herself has become a star speaker, her story undoubtedly inspiring many others. Below, Peggy answers our questions about the state of manufacturing today:

 

BrainXchange: What are the greatest challenges faced by manufacturers today?

PG: All manufacturers that I have spoken to seem to face similar challenges with rising employer costs (many related to healthcare) and the need to reduce operational costs while projecting longer-term strategic plans. In addition, the expectations on employers by employees and the communities that they exist in have changed. Employees expect more from their employers, including a sense of purpose. Communities expect both social and environmental contribution.

In the midst of this, there is a gap in qualified labor and the high-tech skill sets required to meet new operational budgets and strategic plans to increase quality, reduce time and cost to market.

Automation, industrial revolution 4.0, Internet of Things and big data are all being touted as responses to these shared challenges, yet most organizations have not figured out how to incorporate them into current business processes. Although these new technologies can provide relief to manufacturers, they continue to face perception challenges, identified as replacing rather than augmenting humanity.


BrainXchange: What are the effects of automation and big data in manufacturing?

PG: Currently, there are two types of companies benefitting from big data. One is, of course, big data companies, ranging from expanded infrastructures to storage, management, processing and analytics of massive amounts of collected and stored information. The second is the strategic few organizations that have found ways to incorporate the data into problem solving and to deliver the right information to the critical point of decision making. By treating big data and automation as dependent and collaborative solutions, both as drivers of continuous improvement and lean manufacturing processes, we have been able to determine the elements that are most likely to impact outcomes that matter the most –to our product and process quality, productivity and safety. Big data, unless transformed into actionable information, is meaningless.


BrainXchange: Is AGCO experiencing a “skilled labor crunch?”

PG: Yes, but we are addressing it through investment in our employees, both current and potential (apprentices). Mechatronics, assembly academy, scholarships and on the job training combined with a work environment that allows employees to contribute and feel a sense of purpose has allowed us to retain and recruit successfully. Our employees are motivated by the organization’s concern for quality products/processes and employee safety, not cost-reduced workforces.


BrainXchange: How might smart glasses and Augmented Reality help address some of the above challenges?

PG: Smart glasses and augmented reality have been deployed in our manufacturing operations to further our continuous improvement efforts across the site. The use of wearable technology helps eliminate motion, over-processing, defects and even transportation. Excessive travel to workstations to retrieve work instructions and bills of material is eliminated. Defects are minimized due to comprehensive (pictures, videos) and easy-to-access to work instructions. Our plant makes highly complex, low-volume agricultural equipment. Wearable tools help minimize over-processing caused by the need to rework due to misguided assembly. When workers can do their job smarter, faster, safer, it resonates throughout the entire culture. As we realize labor crunches, it is more and more important for companies to offer the tools and training required to create, grow and retain their employees. Smart glasses has helped us to do that.


BrainXchange: What tools do AGCO workers currently use to do their jobs? How are new workers currently trained?

PG: All of our assembly and assembly quality gate employees attend 40 hours of Assembly Academy followed by 40 hours of Lean Work-cell training. In addition to reading blueprints and interpreting supplemental information, assemblers must be proficient at hand, power and assembly tools. Since employees are now expected to use wearable tools including smart eyewear (Google Glass) to access work instructions and quality checklists, wearable tools are introduced immediately in the learning academies.  Wearable tools not only inform but also capture and flow pertinent information (including pictures, text and video) for non-conformance issues and missed thresholds.

It was critical to the success of wearables to acknowledge that all employees are not equal in training and skills. As employees’ skills mature, specific to operations, our wearable applications allow for personalized levels of instructions, tailoring them based on algorithms of training and experience.

The wearable tools themselves are easy to implement and support. Most employees are excited to wear the technology and realize the benefits quickly.


BrainXchange: Where do you see the greatest opportunities for smart glasses in the manufacturing plant?

PG: Our product design team finds great value in virtual reality glasses. Not only do they broaden the ability for a team to “see” what others are thinking, but they allow design teams to remotely interact, all in virtual glass, all seeing the same product and projected design strategies.

As a problem-solving organization and culture, we have weighed the value of wearable smart glasses in many areas, including welding, paint preparation, assembly, quality, technical services, material management and even plant tours. The first thing that we have discovered is that the projected value of replacing current tools, whether it be paper work orders or terminal work instructions, with smart glasses is 2x what we initially thought. The results have been so beneficial in some areas that we have retested, thinking it was a mistake. It is important to note that every pilot we have conducted has been in response to a defined problem. And, after 5 whys, fishbones and cross-functional involvement, sometimes even a kaizen, smart glasses are a part of the proposed solution with metrics associated. Knowing that smart glasses are a lean tool, and not an industry requirement or cool factor, we have reported 30% reduction in processing times, 50% reduction in amount of time employees train on the job (new hire and cross functional) and reduced quality and safety incidents that we are still calculating. The greatest value for the glasses has been in assembly and quality, both needing easy and quick access to hands-free instructions. As a manufacturer of complexly configured products, we have discovered that training by smart glasses is the grand slam. New product launches, multi-operation and new hire training are easily administered and audited for success.


BrainXchange: How do smart glasses further lean manufacturing?

PG: Simple. Lean is all about waste elimination. Smart glasses, when implemented for the right reasons, reduce waste. The use of wearable solutions was discovered as we did what we do best every day–solve problems (4873 problem solutions implemented by employees in 2016.)

Introducing Google Glass to our manufacturing floor was not intended as disruptive technology or even competitive advantage. They were introduced as solutions to make employee’s jobs easier and safer while driving higher quality to our product and our processes. In the end, we have accomplished both.


We are delighted that Peggy will be speaking again at EWTS 2018 this October, and cannot wait to hear how AGCO’s Google Glass success story has progressed. 

 

The 5th Annual Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit 2018, the leading event for enterprise wearables, will take place October 9-10, 2018 at The Fairmont in Austin, TX. 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. For details, early confirmed speakers and preliminary agenda, please stay tuned to the conference website.


Augmented World Expo (AWE,) the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to Augmented and Virtual Reality, is taking place May 30-June 1, 2018 in Santa Clara, CA. Now in its 9th year, AWE USA is the destination for CXOs, designers, developers, creative agencies, futurists, analysts, investors and top press to learn, inspire, partner and experience first-hand the most exciting industry of our times.

 

Photo credit: Google X

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)

Companies You Didn’t Know Were Exploring Wearable Tech

Ever heard of a little company named Coca-Cola or stayed in a Marriott hotel? Are you a Citibank or Wells Fargo customer? Read how some of the world’s largest and best-known companies – companies whose products and services you may see or use every day – are exploring wearable technologies:

Coca-Cola

Back in 2014, the beverage giant partnered with wearable fitness and sleep tracker maker Misfit, both as part of Coca-Cola’s employee wellness program and to offer exclusive red-colored Misfit devices to My Coke Rewards program members. Since then, Coca-Cola has delved further into the world of enterprise wearable tech.

In 2017, it was revealed that the soft drink company partnered with Pristine to pilot Augmented Reality technology in its bottling facilities in hopes of increasing operational efficiency. Coke is testing AR glasses for machine inspections, service calls, routine audits, and more.

One use case involves having technicians wear smart glasses in order to stream what they see in real time to remote subject matter experts. Since Coca-Cola’s main equipment suppliers are based in Germany, the use of AR for remote troubleshooting between plant workers and the supplier’s engineers greatly reduces the company’s travel costs. The glasses allow workers to remain hands-free while accessing maintenance information and viewing step-by-step expert guidance in his or her line of sight.

In another use case, AR would help minimize downtime during changeover, a complex process in which bottling equipment is reconfigured for different packaging options (ex. switching production from cans to glass bottles.) Cruise ships are also testing AR to remotely service Coca-Cola fountain dispensers at sea, an application that could extend to wherever Coke dispensers are located.

*Coca-Cola’s Mike Terrell will be speaking at EWTS Fall 2017 this coming October.

Ashley Furniture

In 2016, the furniture manufacturer and retailer announced it was pursuing Augmented and Virtual Reality to enable customers to design and experience living spaces in 3D. Using Marxent’s VisualCommerce platform, Ashley created and scaled its product catalogue for AR and VR.

The first solution developed with Marxent was the Ashley AR shopping app, for visualizing how the brand’s home furnishings would fit into users’ existing spaces. In addition, Ashley planned for in-store virtual reality tech bars to debut in 2017—using a guided iPad space configuration application with a VR headset, shoppers would be able to design and virtually stand in rooms furnished with Ashley products.

Marriott Hotels

In Summer 2015, the hotel giant created a 4D marketing experience in the form of a traveling Virtual Reality booth or “Teleporter” in which users went on an immersive virtual trip to a Hawaiian beach.

Marriott worked with Framestore to develop the virtual reality content for the Teleporter, which utilized an Oculus Rift headset as well as other sensory experiences like artificial sun and wind. Interior cameras recorded users as they were “teleported” to later share on social media, while a split screen displayed what they saw in the VR simulation alongside footage of their real reactions inside the booth.

The Teleporter traveled to different cities, showcasing the future of travel and likely providing many people with their very first VR experiences. Of course, Marriott hoped that following the quick virtual trip, users would be inspired to book a stay at one of its hotels. The hotel chain believes “travel sampling” in VR will appeal to Millennials, who are more interested in traveling than Baby Boomers and who desire mobility and convenience in their travels.

In Fall 2015, Marriott announced the launch of “VRoom Service” at the New York Marriott Marquis and London Marriott Park Lane hotels. Again aimed at making the hotel brand more attractive to Millennials, the program allowed guests to order a sleek briefcase containing a Samsung Gear VR headset plus accessories to their room for 24 hours.

The device gave access to the Samsung Milk VR platform as well as three inspiring, immersive virtual reality experiences or “VR postcards”—original 360-3D VR videos created by Marriott. Each postcard shared the life-changing experiences of a traveler in a unique destination, with the traveler narrating his/her own story.

Marriott’s VRoom Service pilot was a first in the travel industry. Marriott International also partnered with GoInStore to improve the event booking process by providing remote previews of function spaces for meeting planners. Wearing smart glasses, hotel staff could show customers the rooms and facilities through a live video stream.

(See also Wearable Technology By Industry: Travel and Hospitality and Wearable Tech and Your Next Vacation)

Citigroup and Wells Fargo

In 2016, Citi began exploring how Virtual and Augmented Reality might apply to the finance industry, partnering with VR design firm 8ninths to develop a proof-of-concept for a Mixed Reality trading desk using Microsoft’s HoloLens device.

The concept is a combination 2D-3D work station right on the trading floor. A trader would be able to check financial news, emails, etc. on 2D monitors flanking the station and access holographic trading tools by putting on the HoloLens. With a dynamic 3D snapshot of what’s happening in the market at a given moment, traders could make better trade decisions. They could also remotely collaborate with hedge fund clients, sharing select elements of the holographic workflow with them.

Rival Wells Fargo has been testing AR/VR POCs it might one day adopt in its San Francisco innovation lab since 2014—ideas like having customers virtually interact with bank tellers using the Oculus Rift headset, or having tellers use Google Glass and facial recognition software to automatically pull up customers’ banking information.

 

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: Günter Hentschel Ein Bett im Strandkorb via photopin (license)

What Can Industry Learn from Parks and Entertainment Use of Wearable Tech?

We know wearables, AR, and VR aren’t going away. These technologies will fundamentally change how we live and work, but the full extent to which they will do so is unknown—the applications could be limitless. Most companies are still trying to figure out what emerging technologies will mean for their business. At this point, there isn’t widespread use in any one industry so enterprises have to 1) think outside the box, and 2) look outside the box. They need to think about how to apply brand new technologies with brand new capabilities to existing processes; and also look to other industries and verticals for examples from which to distill applications, lessons and best practices.

Take AGCO: In addition to employing Google Glass on the assembly line, the agricultural equipment manufacturer has incorporated Glass into its factory tours. This isn’t your typical remote guidance use case; it’s an application that arguably borrows from the parks and entertainment industry. What follows is a lesson in looking outside the box: Eight use cases of wearable technology in amusement and entertainment that have implications for industrial enterprises.

Theatre in Paris

In December 2015, Theatre in Paris, an English-speaking box office in Paris, launched an Augmented Reality solution for non-French-speaking, theatre-loving visitors to the city. The company planned to introduce AR glasses that displayed simultaneous translations to the user at several shows as a way of making French theatre and other live entertainment more accessible to tourists. The glasses, designed by Optinvent, could translate into any language and even assist the hearing-impaired, and were much less distracting than surtitles (translations shown above the stage or screen.)

Takeaway: Who are your customers? Your employees? Can you categorize them by differing behaviors and needs (ex. language or skill level) and address those differences (even out the playing field) with a wearable device or personalized AR/VR experience? Could wearable tech provide a leg-up somehow for one group of employees or make your product accessible to a previously overlooked group of potential customers?

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Dave and Buster’s

In June 2016, the entertainment and dining chain rolled out wearable RFID-enabled wristbands for loyal customers and regulars to purchase instead of Power Cards. D&B’s issues over 10 million Power Cards a year, a high percentage of which are ultimately discarded or lost. The bands would have the same function – storing tickets and activating games – but the idea is that people are more likely to hold onto a piece of wearable technology. In the future, the wristbands could also collect customer data and provide additional functionalities.

Takeaway: Do your employees or customers use objects or merchandise that can be easily lost to gain access to secure locations, store information or activate a service? Might it be beneficial to replace the item with wearable tech one would be less likely to misplace and that could potentially track valuable data? Is there a task or service employees or customers opt into (ex. remembering to clock in or log information, playing a game) and could you incentivize them by making a wearable device key to the experience?

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Six Flags and SeaWorld

Last year, both amusement park giants announced plans to introduce Virtual Reality roller coasters on which riders could wear VR headsets for a more exhilarating, immersive experience.

SeaWorld Orlando was retrofitting its oldest roller coaster the Kraken with the technology, which would take those riders who chose to wear the headsets on a virtual deep-sea mission; while Six Flags was adding VR to nine of its most popular rides. Passengers above the age of 12 would be able to wear Samsung Gear headsets on those rides for new, extra sensory, “heart-pumping” experiences in sync with each ride’s sensors, gyros and accelerometers.

SeaWorld, which has been struggling with declining attendance, sees VR as a way to compete with larger theme parks like Disney and Universal. Rather than build a ride from scratch, SeaWorld went the more cost efficient route of upgrading an old ride to create a new experience. For Six Flags, VR is the next logical step in delivering the most thrilling and innovative rides on which the corporation’s reputation is built. There’s also something to be said for giving consumers the opportunity to try out new technology.

Takeaway: Theme parks are not all that dissimilar from brick-and-mortar retail stores—both are struggling to increase attendance and boost engagement as consumer expectations change and convenience becomes a substitute for experience. How can you lure customers into your business, persuade them to physically go to a shop or park, and engage with or buy your product, whether that be material goods or experiences? What can you give them that they cannot get at home or online? What part of your business could use an AR upgrade or a VR makeover? What does your brand stand for, and how might wearable tech strengthen that or send a new message? Could you use AR/VR to stand out in your industry, to distinguish yourself from the competition? Sometimes the cool factor is the disruptor.

Universal

Among the amenities at Universal’s new Volcano Bay water park is an exclusive wearable device developed by TapuTapu—a smart (waterproof) wristband with which guests can do such things as virtually wait in line for a ride and access “tap-to-play” experiences around the park for more fun. In addition, the wearable can be used to make purchases and access locker rentals, so guests don’t have to carry a locker key, cash or credit cards while enjoying the water attractions.

Takeaway: Put yourself in the shoes of one of your customers or employees. What is it like for a customer to experience your business? What is a day on the job like? Are there any hassles or annoyances for your customers/employees that could be removed by introducing wearable technology? Take Universal: Standing in long lines and needing to hold onto one’s wallet on wet and bumpy rides took away from guests’ satisfaction. Consider also that many enterprises are replacing paper manuals and tablets with smart glasses to free up employees’ hands, because having to hold a tablet while doing a task that requires two hands is a hassle (and inefficient.) In both cases, a wearable device improves the logistics of the experience or task.

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NASA

NASA teamed up with Microsoft and Oculus to create two experiences aimed at giving the public a look inside the space agency’s research and operations. The first, “Destination: Mars,” uses Microsoft’s HoloLens headset, and the second is a Virtual Reality tour of the nearly finished Space Launch System (SLS.)

“Destination: Mars” opened Summer 2016 at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The interactive HoloLens exhibit, with a holographic Buzz Aldrin as tour guide, is an adaptation of OnSight, a Mixed Reality solution developed by Microsoft and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to help scientists plan the Curiosity Mars rover’s operations.

At CES 2016, NASA provided a virtual experience of the SLS, which, as the world’s largest and most powerful rocket, will usher in a new era of exploration to destinations beyond Earth’s orbit (like Mars.) Wearing the Oculus Rift, consumers could virtually travel the 325-foot elevator to the Orion capsule atop the rocket.

With these initiatives, NASA is trying to draw attention to and create excitement around its ambitious projects for sending humans to Mars by the 2030s. The MR/VR experiences give users a look at the space agency’s important work, and could help justify its research and spending to which all tax payers contribute.

Takeaways: How transparent is your brand or business? Do you currently engage with the public in any capacity, beyond your company website? Do you offer tours of your operations open to the public or attend trade shows? Should you do more to engage with the public? Could you bolster your company’s reputation or image by showing your customers, backers, stockholders, etc. the work you are doing through a curated AR/VR experience?

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StubHub and Carnival

In March 2016, eBay subsidiary StubHub announced that Final Four ticket buyers as well as those looking to see the San Francisco Giants play at AT&T Park would be able to preview their seat options in Virtual Reality. The immersive, 3D experience would work on StubHub’s iOS and Android apps on either a smartphone/tablet or VR headset like Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR.

With this foray into VR, StubHub is solving a real problem for customers—ticket buyers often struggle to determine where to sit and whether pricier seats are really worth it. Parent company eBay sees VR helping to bridge the trust gap for high-priced, emotionally-driven objects like cars, antiques, paintings and fashion.

Carnival is employing VR in a similar fashion, partnering with Samsung and AT&T to allow consumers to virtually experience what it’s like to travel onboard the world’s largest cruise line. Carnival’s Samsung Gear VR demo was initially available at over 100 AT&T locations nationwide, with plans to expand to over 1,000 stores.

Takeaways: As you might use AR/VR to give the public, your customers or other audience a look behind the scenes of your business, you could also use the technology to allow your customers to experience your product or service before committing to buying. Do you sell experiences (like a vacation) or products that are key to experiences (ex. concert tickets, a car?) How do customers preview or shop for your product? What holds them back from purchasing? Could you use AR/VR to give potential customers better knowledge of your product, to help them make more confident purchasing decisions?

 

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: Simon Blackley In a world of his own 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)

Body-worn Enterprise Wearables: Where’s the Love?

Smart glasses, VR headsets and even smart (AR) helmets have been stealing the spotlight when it comes to enterprise wearables, which begs the question: Why haven’t devices worn below the neck taken off in the workplace?

Perhaps smart glasses for enterprise took off faster precisely because the consumer market did not, because there wasn’t a strong enough consumer demand for – or real consumer interest in – smart eyewear (remember the Glass backlash.) Enterprises, however, expressed a lot of interest – chiefly doctors and field service companies – encouraging the solution providers to re-direct their efforts a la Google. But there is a consumer wearables market, mainly for wrist devices; and while this may be an uncertain market, hardware makers seem to be focusing their efforts where they believe lies the greater or more immediate demand. Of course, this is just one theory based upon one person’s observation. Additional theories are welcome, for this is truly puzzling to an enterprise wearable tech advocate such as myself.

Why are wrist wearables manufacturers overlooking the enterprise? Is there hope for wrist- and body-worn wearables beyond corporate wellness? Smart bands, watches, clothing, badges and other accessories–how can real workers use these devices? Are they only “good for” collecting data; and why does ABI Research believe body-worn wearables are the future of enterprise wearable tech? Furthermore, how should we define this category of wearables? Do exoskeletons count? What about smart patches, ingestibles, and basic body-worn sensors?

What ABI actually predicts is that the enterprise wearables market will soon see a shift from wrist- to body-worn devices; with the latter consisting of head-worn devices like smart glasses and VR headsets, as well as wearable cameras, hearables, smart clothing, and mHealth devices. It’s interesting that the research firm breaks the wearables category down to wrist and body, or the wrist and everything else that isn’t worn on the wrist. But how can this shift occur when to my knowledge the body-worn segment (if it includes head-worn devices) is currently much stronger than the wrist, even when you take into account that ABI considers wearable scanners as wrist devices.

As an enterprise wearable tech enthusiast, I see all wearable tech products through a certain (enterprise-colored) lens, always thinking to myself “How might a field or desk worker use this device?” It can be frustrating to demo a wearable or read about a company whose product – in my eyes – could have great enterprise potential yet the marketing is so clearly consumer-focused. For example, consider a body wearable that monitors posture–there are a number of such devices being marketed to consumers, along with smart wristbands and other jewelry that measure motion sickness or that are designed to enhance the wearer’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. The advertising encourages consumers to wear these devices while going about their everyday lives, and especially at the gym. Wearing them to the office or on the job is not an explicitly mentioned use case, so chances are that an enterprise organization that might really benefit from providing posture- or stress-monitoring wearables to its employees is not aware of all the device offerings out there.

Enterprises are being sold on smart glasses and some are using smart wristbands for EHS purposes (see 3 Great Use Cases of Wearable Tech for EHS), but for the most part smart eyewear is dominating the enterprise wearables discussion. Are smart glasses seen as a more worthwhile investment because they boast many features and can be used in multiple ways within a single organization; while a simple wristband containing sensors that measure various aspects of the wearer’s health has more limited applications? Is it because wristbands aren’t as glamorous as AR glasses? Or because to actually make use of the data from a wristband to detect and prevent work-related health hazards requires data analytics and has deeper privacy implications? Is it a failure to see the potential of these devices, either on the hardware or end user side? Again, additional theories are welcome.

But there is hope for a shift. Consider the Nymi story: The Nymi band is an authentication device that was originally marketed to consumers. The technology uses the wearer’s heartbeat as a biometric identifier for authentication. When we first learned of the device, we saw enormous enterprise potential but it wasn’t for a few years that the company itself noticeably changed course, beginning to more heavily promote the band as a solution for securely accessing devices, applications and physical spaces in the workplace.

My prediction is that more consumer-focused body wearable companies are going to follow Nymi’s example in recognizing and addressing enterprise needs for their technologies. Consumer-like smart wristbands and body-worn sensors, as well as smart clothing in the form of work gear and uniforms, will find their place in the enterprise over the next five years. The enterprise is just too great of a market to be ignored.

 

About EWTS 2017:

The 3rd annual Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit 2017 taking place May 10-12, 2017 in San Diego, California 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. 

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