Google Announces New Developer Partners for Glass

Google has rolled out a new e-mail service, Inbox. (PHOTO CREDIT: 2010 photo by Virginia Mayo, AP)
Google has rolled out a new e-mail service, Inbox. (PHOTO CREDIT: 2010 photo by Virginia Mayo, AP)

Google today announced a second set of five certified developer partners for Glass, the search company’s $1,500 wearable computer.

As with the first five developers, announced in June, the selected companies are focused on the enterprise side of Glass, a sci-fi creation whose price and as-yet limited applications have for the moment kept it from being a broad consumer hit.

“We continue to work hard on the consumer side of Glass, but with enterprise there seems to a new use-case proposition each week,” says Chris O’Neill, who runs global business operations for Glass. O’Neill reports to new Glass head Ivy Ross, who was brought into the Google fold to leverage her extensive consumer marketing experience to ease Glass’ acceptance into the mainstream.

O’Neill says the continuing target for business use are the “roughly 80% of the global workforce that have blue-collar or true hands-on jobs, where if they put their tools down it means they’re putting their work down.”

Among the new companies Google selected as partners for its Glass At Work initiative are Pristine of Austin, Texas (developers of secure video communication for health care workers), Ubimax of Bremen, Germany (improving the flow of manufacturing and order picking in factories) and Interapt of Louisville, Ky. (helping fast food companies improve employee training).

“Having our first international partners highlights the global potential of this product,” says O’Neill. “We don’t think of it as a device, but as a platform. We’re good at this. Much like with Android, we just want to create an ecosystem and then set things in motion.”

Kentucky engineer Ankur Gopal spent time with Google’s futuristic device as an early Glass Explorer. He says he immediately saw the commercial potential for the product.

“We thought about the fast food business and just asked the question, ‘Can you learn your job quicker using wearables?'” says Gopal, Interapt’s CEO, who then convinced Yum Brands (Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken) to run a pilot program for employees that condensed an 80-page training handbook into a series of on-screen prompts.

“I was one of the guinea pigs, and in less than two hours I was making KFC chicken as if I’d worked there for a long time,” says Gopal. “Labor costs often are what concern these sorts of companies the most. So if you can help them on that front, that’s real savings.”

Gopal says based on their pilot, Yum Brands calculated that it could save almost 2% on labor costs due to faster training, which spread over some 8,000 locations would amount to tens of millions of dollars.

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SOURCE: USA Today
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