The other night, I saw Google’s Glass(es) in person for the first time, at a bar in Davis on the face of a Google Boston engineer. To be honest, they didn’t look as odd as I’d imagined. But then again, I like tech.
The reality is that consumer adoption for wearable tech, and particularly for augmented vision, is going to take some serious time. All over the internet, users are preparing to be annoyed by whatever News Feed changes Facebook rolls out today; if that counts as too much change, good luck getting them to wear nerd glasses.
And yet visual augmentation is undeniably useful, including in the workplace. Want to know how? Look no further than APX Labs, a young Cambridge company building the software that will one day be utilized by smart glasses to help workers up their productivity. In the concept video below, APX illustrates a variety of workplace settings where smart glasses could prove useful:
I spoke to Todd Reily, Associate Creative Director at APX, about the company’s thesis for the adoption of smart glasses, and why they see them coming sooner in a business context than a consumer one.
“It somewhat remains to be seen if average people in 2013 are clamoring,” he told me. “In 2013 it still looks fairly dorky. It’s not something that right at this very moment is socially acceptable.”
And so APX is focused on the idea of a “deskless worker,” able to compute hands free while performing other tasks. “We see that hitting much sooner than the consumer device.”
Reily talked me through a couple of use cases for APX’s software, hinted at above. One was a technician, say for an automobile or a tractor. They’re working with their hands and simultaneously able to see work instructions, or a 3D model. “We can actually do all of that today,” he told me.
Another big area they’re focusing on is healthcare where, similarly, nurses and doctors can see patient information, drug information, etc. while interacting with a patient. There’s also surgery, which they’ve explored in a military context. (The company’s original focus was “Terminator Vision” for the military.) The APX platform enables medics to call back to a more experienced surgeon, share his or her vision of the patient, and thereby let the surgeon offer instructions.
Reily mentioned the possibility of smart glasses rapidly accelerating the use of place specific applications. So a fix-your-car application could actually live on the automobile, and only be accessible when you open up the hood and look at the engine. “With the glasses,” he said. “The interface lives on the world.”