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Google Glass takes flight at Boeing

Al Sacco | July 14, 2016
Aerospace giant Boeing recently completed a successful Google Glass pilot, reducing production time of aircraft 'wire harnesses' and chopping related error rates in half. The company also says it is 'very close' to launching a live smartglass system.

google glass Brian Sacco

It didn't take long to come up with a barebones Glass app, and DeStories and his crew started to slowly show it to small groups of wire harness techs. The Glass app was a hit and served as a proof of concept.

Later that year, an internal Boeing newsletter detailed the initiative, called "Project Juggernaut," and drew attention across the company. "It piqued a whole lot of interest," DeStories says. "That really forced us to take a step back and realize we needed an enterprise solution, not just this one-off application."

Juggernaut meets Skylight 

To take Project Juggernaut to the next level, Boeing had to find a secure, reliable way to connect Glass to its wire harness database and pull the necessary information in real time. 

"Boeing put a competitive RFP [request for proposal] out into the market that I'm sure all of the Glass at Work partners heard about," says Brian Ballard, CEO and cofounder of APX Labs, maker of the Skylight enterprise platform for smartglasses and a 2016 World Economic Forum Tech Pioneer company. "They described a pain point in their manufacturing process, and we saw it and were like, 'Oh man, that is exactly what we can do.' We started a competitive bid for it and won the work."

[Related: How Google Glass could still see consumer success]

Boeing and APX Labs started work to integrate Skylight in early 2015, according to Ballard, and between March and November, DeStories and his team traveled to various Boeing locations and showed an early offline version of the Glass app to determine whether or not the concept would stand up to scrutiny on the harness floor. The team also did an internal training event with about 20 people, expecting some pushback. "Out of those 20 people, maybe two were not that excited," he says. "The rest were excited to use it and picked up on it pretty quick."

It was clear, that "across the board, it was going to work," according to DeStories.

Putting Glass to work on Boeing wire harnesses

During the pilot, when a participant showed up for work she'd first visit a lockbox to check out a Glass unit, and then go to her computer to login and authenticate the device on the network, according to DeStories. For authentication, the tech would put on the smartglasses and scan a QR code generated by the system on her computer, which then pushed the wire harness app to the smartglasses. Next, the tech would head to her work station on the assembly floor, grab the next "shop order," and then scan another QR code on the box of components, which provided necessary status updates or notes and told her where to get started, DeStories says.


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