Google Glass, Smart Glass Technologies Beneficial for Business: Gartner

While less than 1 percent of companies in the U.S. have implemented smart glasses, that figure may increase to 10 percent in the next five years.

The use of smart glasses, such as the technology developed by Google for its Glass project, has the potential to improve worker efficiency in vertical markets such as manufacturing, field service, retail and health care, according to a report from IT research firm Gartner.

The report projected that the greatest savings in field service would come from diagnosing and fixing problems more quickly and without needing to bring additional experts to remote sites.

For example, video collaboration with experts in remote locations could result in faster repairs and save the expense of flying an expert to the site to help. Employees at remote sites could also communicate and share video of what they see with experienced workers to get advice on how to diagnose and fix problems.

Gartner predicts that while less than 1 percent of companies in the United States have implemented smart glasses, that figure may increase to 10 percent during the next five years for companies with offsite workers, such as field service personnel and inspectors.

"Smart glasses with augmented reality (AR) and head-mounted cameras can increase the efficiency of technicians, engineers and other workers in field service, maintenance, health care and manufacturing roles," Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner, said in a statement. "In the next three to five years, the industry that is likely to experience the greatest benefit from smart glasses is field service, potentially increasing profits by $1 billion annually."

Financial institutions and the media could use smart glasses to deliver alerts through subscription services for professionals who need up-to-the-minute information, while insurance agents, for example, could use them to video property that has been damaged and then check on the replacement value of items they have identified using a visual search.

In addition, the report suggested how-to instructions and illustrations on the smart-glass displays could enable workers to perform tasks even if they do not remember all the procedures, and workers with mild memory issues or cognitive impairment may find smart glasses useful tools for remembering how to complete tasks.

"Given these advances, the goals of corporate training may evolve away from memorizing procedural steps to knowing how to use smart glasses and access key information using voice commands," Tuong Nguyen, principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. "Classroom training and tests on the content of manuals can be reduced since much of the practical training can be done 'on the job' with the assistance of smart glasses. However, training must always include safety and employees should continue to know how to use equipment for routine tasks."