What the Future could look like through SmartGlasses

Imagine you are in the middle of assembling an engine that is the size of a small house. You are using both hands in the assembly when you forget the next step in the assembly process of this 10,000-part engine. Having to leave your position, retrieve a manual, find the right page, and read what to do next takes up valuable time and hurts the overall productivity of your factory. Several companies are looking to solve this exact issue by utilizing smart glasses and pairing the glasses with a more recent mature and robust software offering.

Smart glasses are a wearable computer that allow the wearer to see information via a small display mounted on the glasses. Early models could only display very basic information such as text and weather. Over time, the companies have integrated more hardware features such as cameras, microphones, and speakers giving the wearer more functionality, control, and options of how to use the glasses. These new hardware additions have allowed software development companies to create applications designed to tackle a long list of problems its customers are looking to solve; displaying steps in an engine assembly, for example. APX Labs is one of the premier software companies developing for smartglasses.

APX labs has created a smartglass platform called Skylight. Skylight’s aim is to allow those working in an industrial scenario to get instruction while keeping their hands free. Instruction can be given in a variety of ways: be it via a manual loaded into the glasses or by initiating a video chat with one of their coworkers. One may think, “Wait! This sounds dangerous, how can they see what they are working on?!” Not to worry, APX, as well as other makers, have designed the displays to overlay what is in the viewer’s field of vision. An easy example would be a shadow cast on table. You are still able to see the table, but is “behind” the shadow. The smartglass technology can be integrated with safety glasses, increasing the overall use and locations the smartglasses may be used.

What does this mean for the future? This technology opens the door for companies to use smartglasses in new and innovative ways. In just 4 years, smartglass technology has gone from a physically heavy and minimally viable product to having real world robust applications and delivering tangible results. Currently with Skylight, users are only able to reference process steps or ask for assistance. It is reasonable to think that in the very near future, smartglasses that will recognize what step in the assembly or repair process a technician is on, highlight which tool is needed next, and automatically give the technician a demo of what to do next without even being prompted. These future features of Skylight are not an incredible stretch of the imagination and as smartglass technology continues to develop, the realm of possibilities will continue to grow as industry waits, with baited breath, for the latest and greatest smartglasses release.

One large drawback of the smartglasses technology is the need to put on, remove, and store a physical device; not to mention the ease at which glasses can be broken. Futurists believe, that one day, we will have all the benefits of smartglasses via a microchip imbedded in our brain. This would allow users to receive help before they even know they need it. All the knowledge one worker has in their brain can be easily transferred to another worker in seconds, making training for a new task take no time at all. The need for user manuals would be obsolete as employees could uploaded manuals directly to their brain from a central repository.

This may sound like the popular late 90’s movie, “The Matrix”, but is it really that far out? In the future, will GE not only continue to employ some of the brightest minds in history, but help to make them better through microchip implantation as well? Of course, this would raise many ethical questions, but could this be the far-out future? Could we see this happen?

This #Trends article was written by Mary Ford, a 2nd Rotation Power DLTP.





2nd Rotation Power DLTP