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Google's former 'Glass at Work' chief talks smartglasses in the enterprise

Al Sacco | July 9, 2014
In April, Google launched "Glass at Work," a program that certifies Glass-related products and services from third-party vendors for use in enterprise environments. The company last month announced its first five official "Glass at Work" partners and took some significant steps toward legitimizing its Glass smartglasses in the enterprise.

CIO: Tell me more about APX. What exactly is the company about? 

EJ: APX is focused specifically on bringing information and data to workers in the enterprise by visually overlaying that information in front of them, specifically focusing on workers who don't sit at a desk and need two hands to do their jobs.

CIO: APX doesn't specifically focus on Glass, correct? 

EJ: That's right. APX historically has done some hardware and software. Today APX is mainly focused on the software side of things. The idea is to build a platform across a variety of smartglasses. Today the primary two that we work with are Epson Moverio on the augmented reality (AR) side and Google Glass on the heads-up display side. We're evaluating lots of other hardware manufacturers. I know the APX team has talked to pretty much everybody who has thought about developing hardware in this space.

The big differentiator for APX is building on top of those legacy systems like SAP or Microsoft and connecting that with hardware platforms like Glass and Moverio to then enable an "app store" for smartglass apps in the enterprise, if you will. Niche application providers can develop applications on top of APX's Skylight platform; integrators can use APX's Skylight platform, and, in some cases, we'll develop on top of our own platform, for specific customers, especially in the early days. Again, call it an "app store for smartglasses in the enterprise."

CIO: There are a lot of negatives stories being written today about Glass. Some stories suggest Glass is just an expensive novelty or that it's already "doomed." What are your thoughts on the future of Glass specifically? Do you think that idea behind smartglasses is more viable than Google's implementation of it?

EJ: Anytime there's new technology innovation, there's always a bit of pushback. I think the resounding feedback that I've seen when I talk to people in person about Glass, and they try it for the first time, is excitement. Things like, 'Wow, this is going to change the world.'

I think wearable technology in general is inevitable. In the enterprise, smartglasses bring a tidal wave of economic benefit and gain, specifically for CIOs. If nothing else, it gives CIOs the ability to take their investments [in legacy systems] and push that out to the rest of their workforce, if you will.

Today, most of the people who interact with those systems are sitting at a desk. All the workers that are out there with gloves on at an oil pipeline or with sanitized hands working on a patient in surgery, manufacturing line workers, they're not able to leverage the gains of all those investments that have been made in legacy business systems. That's what smartglasses do.


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