InCloud and Wearable Technology
Smartglasses are the all-work, no-play wearable that people actually use
The future of smartglasses will be realized by a factory worker operating a 3000-pound stamp press, not a gamer stomping on virtual-reality bad guys. Face computers are all about scanning bar codes on cardboard boxes, punching in and out on production equipment, and providing real time tracking progression of work orders, not scanning tourist attractions for augmented reality overlays.
Are you getting this?
Smartglasses are a productivity story. They’re about getting things done. This is the vision of InCloud Control, which this Friday will begin seeding XOEYES Smartglass Manufacturing Solution to some two-dozen companies in blue-collar business sectors ranging from small manufacturing to oil and gas.
The XOEYES has two user-changeable earpieces. One earpiece contains the glasses’ battery, while the other one houses sensors and core-logic. A 5-megapixel video camera sits smack-dab in the middle of the frames.
Smartglasses represent the next wave of business communication. Every 20 years, a new technological breakthrough fundamentally changes how workers communicate with each other and clients. In the 1950’s, the enterprise space depended mostly on phones. Faxes made an impact in the 70’s, and email changed everything in the 90’s.
Next up: “activity streams.” Smartglasses like the XOEYES will share streams of data—audio, video and even rarefied sensor information—to connect workers with colleagues in unprecedented and liberating ways.
”If a technician could share an activity stream from these glasses instead of waiting for a supervisor to physically come to that location – just imagine how much faster problems would be resolved.”
Activity streams are the next 20-year cycle, and wearables are a huge part of this. Whether it’s capturing a bar code, or capturing video of what a technician is seeing, I’m able to transmit data from the employee to the cloud to various devices in the workplace. Right now, people trade email and video to troubleshoot problems. But if a technician could share an activity stream from these glasses instead waiting for a supervisor to physically come to that location – just imagine how much faster problems would be resolved.
The XOEYES Manufacturing concept is simple by design, and it needs to be if roughnecks on an oil rig or hardhats on a factory floor are going to bother with newfangled tech. An employee dons the XOEYES glasses, and everything he or she sees is streamed from an onboard 5-megapixel video camera to InCloudVision, our own cloud platform. Tapping into InCloudVision, remote colleagues can see everything the employee sees—and from the employee’s point of view.
A factory worker operating heavy machinery could give her foreman a clear point-of-view video of everything she’s seeing. Here we see an early hardware prototype.
The smartglasses also include two microphones and a set of earbuds, so employees at a job site can easily speak with coworkers, whether they’re located in a different part of the same building or 2000 miles away. And because the InCloud glasses include an accelerometer and gyroscope, InCloud’s Vision platform can log body movements, inviting new possibilities for managing worker safety and ergonomics.
Let’s walk through a few scenarios. The most obvious InCloud application involves telepresence-based troubleshooting: A manager in a remote location guides a field technician through a complex diagnostics process, using the XOEYES glasses as his eyes and ears. Windover scripts a typical exchange: “Grab this wire. No, not that one, that one. Great, now tighten that down. Let’s hear it again. No, it still doesn’t sound right. Turn it off. Let’s try something else.”
Sure, that field worker may not always appreciate being guided like a marionette by a puppet master half a continent away, but telepresence can save companies expensive plane trips for on-site visits, as well as critical time.
Because camera sensors can also read bar codes, the XOEYES could be a huge benefit to the shop floor workers as well. Currently, employees spend thousands or hours hunting down routing sheets that travel along with the work order. High profile customers often trump running production schedules and that is where the fun usually begins for supervisors. An employee wearing the XOEYES glasses could scan into a work order, a specific production machine, scan a specific task they need to perform and get to work on the order. When the change hits the shop floor a simple scan out of the order can place a “Paused or Held” status on in the InCloud MX system. Then simply starting the new order is a scan and off to the races. When that order is completed the employee goes back to the Held order and continues the process. A single employee can run multiple orders as well. One of the common practices in small manufacturing is one employee running multiple orders in parallel. This creates a difficulty in tracking true manufacturing costs if the employee is spread across multiple machines. Problem solved when that same employee is wearing XOEYES glasses connected to InCloud MX. True time tracking is made easy and provides the most accurate and non-intrusive methodology by scanning the machines to punch in and out.
In the front office, supervisors, sales teams, and owners can get an update view of the production schedule and how each order is progressing. Customer service is handled instantly from accurate real time data that is being fed and updated from the shop floor team as changes occur.
The same XOEYES glasses can be used by airlines that need to route thousands of pieces of luggage every hour. Currently, this is a grueling process that requires an employee to pull a heavy suitcase off a conveyor belt with one hand, while reading the luggage tag with a handheld scanner in the other hand.
But if an airline mothballs its $1000 handheld scanners for the $500 face-mounted XOEYES, it can save money and reduce workplace injuries.
“Every time one of our airline customers has a shoulder injury, it costs them thirty thousand bucks,” Windover says. “Something like this, which is a fraction of the cost, lets them pick up that bag with two hands. It totally changes the amount of safety and injury issues.”
Of course, the truck drivers who work for FedEx and UPS use handheld scanners too. InCloud and XOEYE imagines a day when our packages will be scanned by the XOEYES —and a deliveryman will snap a photo of the package before he leaves it on your doorstep. We’ve got companies that are spending millions of dollars on liability every month because someone says a package was destroyed. Well, was it? Now they’ve got a picture of the container when they left it at your house.
Safety and ergonomic applications fill out InCloud’s bag of tricks. The smartglasses’ motion sensors can pick up whenever a factory worker bends down in a 90-degree angle. The back-end Vision platform can record this as a “biometric event” and save it to a database for further review by management. If Charlie is bending over 60 times a day, he may have a back problem in his future. So a company may want to change the way it utilizes this person, or maybe transfer him to a different department.
The XOEYES’s movement sensors could track how many times a factory worker bends down during a shift—or send an alert when an employee is entering a danger zone.
Similarly, the XOEYES’s accelerometer could trigger an alert every time a factory worker exceeds an acceptable forklift speed. Or perhaps a dangerous machine shuts down anytime someone wearing the smartglasses gets too close to a saw blade or stomp point. InCloud will provide customers with InCloud Control’s MX platform that comes with a slew of APIs so we can build and implement custom applications that interface with their own unique workflows, data, and Wearable use cases.
Likewise, the Vision platform is designed to integrate with legacy enterprise management systems (critical, say, for all that bar-code scanning), and can be used to push specific applications to the smartglasses via over-the-air updates.
Google Glass? For this market?
We think Google Glass is ill-suited for the industries XOEYES is targeting. Specifically, Glass’ reliance on voice control and capacitive touch makes it a non-starter for noisy work environments where so many employees wear gloves.
The XOEYES, meanwhile, is designed for blue-collar factory workers, and is born from the collective wisdom of an InCloud Control – XOEYES product team – and Georgia Tech.
“We get these people who drive an F-150 to work and listen to Luke Bryant. That’s us – Hell that’s me.”
Like Glass, the XOEYES’s interface features voice control, but the glasses aren’t dependent upon it. The XOEYES don’t employ capacitive touch, and instead has two hardware control buttons for times when the din of machinery drowns out voice commands, and when heavy safety gloves make traditional touch control impossible.
You’ll also notice that the XOEYES lacks any type of display to provide visual feedback for the system’s applications. That’s a design feature, an acknowledgement that excessive visual feedback isn’t necessarily safe. Instead the XOEYES has a strip of LEDs that run along the interior of the frames and send simple messages back to the worker—for example, a green LED could indicate a package has been properly scanned.
And of course, the clear lenses on the XOEYES are impact-resistant to ANSI Z87.1 standards. The glasses’ earbuds are safety-certified, too.
The only viable smartglass future?
The XOEYES smartglasses are destined for final release this summer. Not only will it cost a very reasonable $500 per unit, but the glasses will come with a $99 monthly subscription to the Vision enterprise suite. That recurring cost includes full access to the device-management platform, regular firmware updates, and unlimited minutes for the XOEYES’s telepresence function. (Notably, each pair has its own phone number for voice calls, but it depends on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth smartphone tethering, as the glasses have no SIM.)
Subscription fees will likely drop when a business buys XOEYES at scale. We hope the costs will be low enough to spark an “activity stream” revolution? If any use cases have the potential to spur wearables adoption, it’s the kind that puts workplace productivity front-and-center.
“The average Joe consumer will probably look at Google Glass and say, ‘What is this going to help me solve?’” says Ramon Llamas, a wearables industry analyst at IDC. “Whereas within an enterprise opportunity, particularly the ones in industry, these are very specific situations and problems. And we all know that anything that’s going to make you more efficient is going to make you more profitable down the line.”
If you want to be a part of an upcoming research project that will measure how wearable smartglasses impact safety, quality and efficiency email or call us.