The reports of the death of Google Glass have been greatly exaggerated – at least as far as a tractor factory in Atlanta is concerned.
For most of us the quirky, nerdy wearable died out back in 2015 when Google ended its brief stint of selling Glass to the public for an eye-watering £1,000. Poor battery life, limited functionality, privacy concerns, and an inability to live up to Google's slick previews of what it was supposed to look like, each drove a nail into Glass' coffin. And while rumours of a second-generation Glass have circled for some time, nothing official has come to light.
But hold on a minute, because while consumers baulked at Glass and its dorky looks, heavy industry saw potential in the head-up, hands-free computer. One such company was tractor manufacturer AGCO, which began using Glass in 2015 and continues to do so to this day.
Staff on the production line wear Glass to help guide them through assembly instructions in a way which is quicker and more convenient than turning away to look at a computer screen.
The device, which projects images into the wearer's right eye, can show instruction manuals, photos and videos to help staff get their job done. Notes can be left for the next shift worker by saying "OK Glass" and leaving a voice memo.
"It took a little getting used to. But once I got used to it, it's been just awesome," AGCO worker Heather Erickson told NPR. "I don't have to leave my area to go look at the computer every time I need to look up something."
Erickson uses Glass' front-facing camera to scan the serial number of a part she is working on, which then brings up documents and videos to help her with her job. AGCO previously used tablets but due to frequent accidents these were replaced by the head-worn Glass. Currently, 100 employees use Glass but such is their effectiveness AGCO has plans to double this to 200.
Google's Glass at Work programme still lists several companies which use the product. These range from those in the medical and surgery industries, to IT, analysis, manufacturing and more. In all, there are eight certified partners, plus others like AGCO which are not tied as closely to Google. General Electric and Boeing are also known to be testing out Glass, and some airlines have also experimented with using the gadget to deliver passenger information to airport staff.