As mentioned on our Twitter feed our team were excited to attend Google Atmosphere this week in Dublin to see what Google can bring to the Inspection & Testing industry. Google Atmosphere is a conference held in their own offices for business leaders to demonstrate the technology available to improved business processes.
Thankfully it is not all a sales push and they had real life business partners on stage to talk about the good and bad about using these tools. “Glass” was the main focus of our attention and how it can be deployed in Field Inspections.
“Glass” enables wears to interact with a computer through a display over their right eye. You can communicate using voice or swiping the frame of the Glasses. You can find out more on the functionality here as we are just going to concentrate on “Glass” in the inspection industry. Google has 3 main markets for Glass: – Public Safety – Health Care – Field Worker It is designed for quick, snappy interactions to save on the downtime of taking out your mobile phone. That is the main function of Glass. If you do want to read a news article or a blog – take out your phone! It is not a standalone device for the user to wear.
We were delighted to hear that Google had mentioned Field Workers as one of their targeted Markets as we are in that space. For those not familiar with Sitecert, our app enables Inspections to be carried out on mobile devices in the field. The record is then created online immediately for the end user (equipment owner) to view or download. Our initial customers inspect lifting equipment for their customers, which is simple enough as it’s just a visual inspection with an end result of “Pass/Fail”. Our system also handles more complex inspections where there may be a checklists to be completed, such as on a forklift. This differentiation is important for evaluating “Glass” for field inspections.
As I wear normal glasses every day “Glass” felt natural enough to wear. The screen does not get in your way of your normal field of vision as you have to look up to activate and view the screen. Until you do that action, then you realise that indeed it is for “short, snappy interactions”. Long term it is not comfortable – just try looking up to the top right of your field of vision and see how long it takes to become uncomfortable. To me the screen just confirms what you are doing as most of the control is via voice and there is also audio feedback via Bone Conduction Transducer (BCT), . The voice control is fairly accurate and probably learns the more you use it. I have a strong accent – even for an Irish person and it understood me fine! So currently, if you carry out written field inspections & take pictures with a camera/phone using “Glass” will have some benefit as you don’t have to keep taking out your device to take a picture. But is it worth the current price tag for this functionality? Glass does have a role to play in field inspections, but it must be designed specifically around “Glass” as it’s to be controlled by audio. It’s like using voice control to control an App. Therefore the App must be very simple to use with a minimum amount of screens. Sitecert was built on simplicity as it is made up of only 3 main screens, 1. Where you pick your client, location etc, 2. Where you identify equipment, 3. Where you certify the item. Once you get to step 2 where you are identifying items you do not generally have to revisit Step 1. So, Sitecert is suitable to deploy on “Glass” as you can identify the item by speaking the serial number. Obviously, step 1 and 2 can be automated if you have a barcode attached to the item as I’m sure it has barcode reading functionality built in. So therefore getting to the “Certify Screen” is not an issue. Simple inspections can be easily carried out on “Glass” such as “Visual Inspections” where just a general “Pass/Fail” answer is required. However, where there is a checklist to complete, the user would get annoyed having to go through each question singularly, where it would be faster on a mobile device. For checklists to work on “Glass” they would have to be kept short and have a default answer picked, so you would have to only change it where there is an exception to the normal answer picked. To round up, I do see a role for Google “Glass” for simple visual and short checklists in the field where its power can be utilised. For longer checklists and NDT I do not see it as a suitable device unless you are using it solely to record pictures and audio notes to include in your report you are typing up back in the office. The reason is that there are too many “Inspection Questions” to be answered which would have to be flashed up individually in front of user. On a mobile device, or paperbased inspection, you can quickly scan through these – while in “Glass” they would have to be flashed individually. See a sample of the screens that you see on “Glass” click here . While “Glass” is suitable option for quick simple inspections, a smart watch would probably be more appropriate and cheaper to use. Google also recently launch their “wearables” programming platform for developers to interact with wearable’s so this may be an option in the near future.
Google “Glass” is handy for field inspections where examiner needs to keep his hands free – such as a rope access inspector to record pictures, video or just audio notes. It is also useful for examinations where just a “Pass/Fail” answer needs to be recorded and it helps when the asset is barcoded.
As with any new technology, you will have your early adopter’s who will overlook frailties just to have the device. While I am a “techie”, I can understand the barriers that others have to adoption whether it be financial or just plane hard to use. That’s why you don’t hear me going on about RFID for 3rd Party Inspection companies while I am an advocate for RFID in “inhouse compliance”. I do see it being a number of years before its being adopted into the inspection industry, but their definitely is a use case for it. It is great for displaying short concise, information to the user but it will take a bit more work (and skilled programmers) before users can start inputting data efficiently via the “Glass” system. Thanks to Google, Dublin for giving us access to their latest technologies and their free gourmet food bar!