Google Glass has found a home in the medical world, and now there are indications it may also get some traction in business markets. One start-up announced Tuesday it has raised $10 million to back its software for enhanced reality headsets in business environments.
The company, Herndon, Va.-based APX Labs LLC, had been focusing since its founding in 2010 on military applications . Now it is looking to target its software, Skylight 2.0, toward the interactive display of useful data for employees, such as a supervisor in a factory, a field technician for a utility company, or a mechanic working on an airplane.
The venture financing was secured in a Series A round and led by New Enterprise Associates, an investment firm that specializes in new and developing industries.
As Many as 20 Percent
Brian Ballard, APX Labs CEO, said in a statement that the investment will allow the company to "develop exciting and emerging use-cases for smart glasses." He described Skylight 2.0 as "the most advanced software for wearable technology," and said the company was looking "to get our technology into the field in a big way."
APX said Skylight was being used in a variety of Fortune 500 companies from a range of industries. The company predicts that as many 20 percent of workers throughout the world could benefit from Skylight software and enhanced-reality headsets.
Skylight is a gateway for real-time access to data and applications that are displayed in the field of view in Glass or Moverio. It is designed to integrate with such existing enterprise systems as those from SAP, Microsoft and others, and the company said that large system integrators like Deloitte are working to develop new use cases for Skylight.
New features in the latest version of Skylight include immediate contextual and visual feedback from a remote supervisor or expert to help the headset-wearing employee, and green points showing up on specific real-world locations that, with directional arrows, act as beacons to guide the wearer to a specific destination if needed.
There is also now a "radar" widget that shows where other relevant points, such as objects or people, are located in relation to the wearer.
'First and Most Obvious Applications'
Roger Kay, an analyst with industry research firm Endpoint Technologies Associates, told us that "the first and most obvious applications [for Google Glass] are in the business world."
There are clear, on-the-spot informational needs for some kinds of workers, he said, and this can propel adoption. But, Kay said, there's also the fact that, in many kinds of business or professional environments, "the social issues that consumers have don't exist."
He pointed to the example of "a doctor hovering over you while wearing Glass," which is just one more instrument the doctor is wearing or using. Similarly, a supervisor in a factory or a technician in lab would not be hindered by the social hesitancy that might accompany, say, someone wearing Glass and going into a bar.
Kay said this isn't to say that Glass or similar headsets won't eventually find social acceptance in the consumer world, but that many parts of the business/professional world are ready and waiting. He also noted that there are some business environments, such as workers in a hotel, that fall between a factory or operating room on the one hand, and walking down the street on the other. Hotel workers are in a kind of public space, but it is also a private facility, so Glass' acceptance there remains to be seen.