Repeating history, Apple's entry into the world of smartwatches seemed to instantly legitimize wearables even though the product is not due to ship until early 2015 and may not arrive until the spring. Also repeating history, Apple was far from the first to dip tts wrist into the space. In smartwatches alone, Samsung entered the space last year with the first Galaxy Gear and Google followed this summer with its licensed Android Wear software for smartwatches.
But Google had a high-profile wearable even before that in Google Glass, the conspicuous technology tour de force eyewear. Long constrained to early adopter "explorers" and promised to ultimately reach a more consumer-friendly price, recent rumors have swirled that Google Glass may be in trouble among continued delays developer defections. Competitors such as Epson have competitive products already in the market.
Smartwatches may be in a better position to become the first mass market wearables, but Google Glass can do things that no smartwatch can. Indeed, rather than writing off Google Glass as a failure, it may be time to consider writing it off as a business expense. While it's position on the face often causes consternation, it positions Google Glass to see what its wearer sees and to overlay information on the real world. These capabilities make it ideal for many kinds of applications. Google's Glass at Work site lists several developers, many of which are focused on healthcare applications, but there are more general applications as well. They include:
1. Presentations. Sure, Glass can be viewed as encumbrance, but so is a laptop in front of you as you do something like give a presentation. An app like Glassentation allows a Glass user to unobtrusively receive teleprompter-like cues while maintaining eye contact with an audience. Developers are working to tie Glass into all kinds of enterprise databases.
2. Training. Because of its ability to record video from a the viewer's perspective and send it over wireless networks, Glass can be helpful for seeing how trainees handle a wide range of tasks, from in-person customer service to handling animals. Training can also be achieved via videos that can be called up on demand to Glass' screen, hands-free.
3. Field work. Glass could be an option for having employees or contractors in the field who need to survey things such as the site of an accident, the condition of merchandise at a retailer, or real estate. A video record of the inspection allows for more flexibility in terms of detail than a wearable camera.
The business appeal of Glass would only grow as it became smaller and less obtrusive. It foretells a future of more instant, in-context information retrieval and relay in situations where it's desirable or critical to have one's hands-free while maintaining an eye-level perspective.