Glass, Google's head-mounted, Internet-connected device, won't be available commercially until sometime in 2014. Even so, there are thousands of Glass "Explorers," or early adopters, already using the high-tech eyewear on the job. Many are discovering that, in addition to being a geeked-out plaything, Glass can in fact solve everyday business problems, help people be more productive, enhance workflows and deliver other real-world benefits.
Here's a look at some of the practical and innovative ways Explorers are using the $1,500 prototype device in their work - from automotive repair to sports reporting.
1. Live, Remote Sales Training
Josh Cohen is CEO of TownSpot, an online video network startup. The company has no actual offices, Cohen says, with team members scattered around the country. The virtual organization structure makes it challenging to train the sales team - a problem Google Glass is helping to solve, according to Cohen.
For example, on a recent sales call to a new customer in Los Angeles, with the customer's permission, Cohen streamed video of his view in real-time via Google Glass to an Atlanta co-worker. Cohen's colleague could see the customer's reactions and hear how he delivered the sales pitch, he says, adding that this type of easily set up, live and remote training "could never have been done before."
Often, salespeople are trained by accompanying the sales leader or CEO on customer calls, Cohen notes. This usually requires flying the sales person to another location, among other costs. Glass lets Cohen virtually take multiple people on sales calls with him wherever he goes, thereby reducing travel and other training expenses.
2. Hands-free Sports Reporting
Andrew Abramson, the Miami Dolphins beat reporter for The Palm Beach Post, uses Glass on the job. He was interested in the device mainly for its video and photo capabilities.
"Video has become a huge part of sports reporting," Abramson says. "While the traditional TV reporters still enter locker rooms with their bulky cameras, other reporters are often uncomfortably holding up their cell phones and shooting their own clips."
Meanwhile, Abramson finds it much easier to wear a video camera on his face. "With Google Glass, I can shoot photos and videos simply by pressing a button or using voice commands," he says. "I can instantly upload photos and videos to the Web without using my hands."
Abramson has received "an overwhelmingly positive response" from Dolphins fans who follow his reports, and about half of the Dolphins' players have tried on his pair. Reaction varies, he says, from ridicule to amazement to "Where do I get my pair?"
3. Sharing Conference Sessions
"Literally every day, there are different start-up related conferences and events," Cohen says. He can't make it to them all, but with Google Glass - and the permission of conference organizers - Cohen and his team divide and conquer. Recording the events in real time "is easier and less obtrusive than using a video camera," he says, and it gives employees the convenience of watching a conference or event on their own time.
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