Smartglasses, such as Google Glass, have the potential to improve worker efficiency in vertical markets such as manufacturing, field service, retail and healthcare.
In the field service industry alone, research firm Gartner predicts the technology can generate savings of $1 billion (€743 million) per year by 2017.
“Smartglasses with augmented reality (AR) and head-mounted cameras can increase the efficiency of technicians, engineers and other workers in field service, maintenance, healthcare and manufacturing roles,” said Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner.
“The greatest savings in field service will come from diagnosing and fixing problems more quickly and without needing to bring additional experts to remote sites.”
Though Smartglasses still remain an emerging technology in the enterprise sector - and even in the US less than 1% of companies have implemented the technology - Gartner predicts that adoption may increase to 10% in the next five years for companies with offsite workers, such as field service personnel and inspectors.
Gartner predicts that the lower-priced, consumer versions of smartglasses will further help adoption such that in 10 years, perhaps half the companies that would benefit from using smartglasses will give them to at least some of their employees who could make use of them.
Smartglasses are expected to have the most impact on heavy industry, such as manufacturing, and oil and gas, because the AR glasses enable on-the-job training of workers in how to fix equipment and perform manufacturing tasks. The impact is likely to be medium for mixed industries, such as retail, consumer packaged goods and healthcare, where the benefits may mostly be looking for information via a visual search.
Meanwhile, the weightless industries, such as insurance, media and banking will likely experience a low impact from smartglasses. However, there are still potentially beneficial uses for smartglasses. Insurance agents, for example, may use smartglasses to video property that has been damaged and then check on the replacement value of items they have identified using a visual search. Financial institutions and the media will use smartglasses to deliver alerts via subscription services for smartglasses to professionals who need up-to-the-minute information.
Gartner expects some of the basic functions of smartglasses to help bring added efficiency to the enterprise. How-to instructions and illustrations on the smartglass displays enable workers to perform tasks even if they do not remember all the procedures. The virtual assistant on the smartglasses could serve as an interactive, hands-free “how-to” manual. Thus, workers may successfully complete tasks they have little experience doing.
Employees at remote sites can communicate and share video of what they see with experienced workers to get advice on how to diagnose and fix problems. In this way, enterprises can improve the cost-effectiveness of their field service and remote operations by employing a larger ratio of less-experienced workers to experienced ones or specialists, thus saving labor costs.