Google Glass isn't dead – one Minnesota factory is actually embracing it

Glass has apparently been a huge help for the Minnesota company.
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Google's original vision for Google Glass was an augmented reality for the everyday.

Getting text updates from friends right to your eyeballs, real-time directions on the display as you walked through the streets, sharing photos of your life, answering video calls. It's all here in this early concept video.

Turns out the Glasshole revolution never came to be. Maybe the tech wasn't quite advanced enough; maybe people just weren't ready for it. Whatever the reason, Google Glass faded from internet shelves and headlines by early 2015.

But it turns out Google Glass didn't die. It's just been focused on work – and it's thriving at businesses like Minnesota's AGCO.

Less time looking at manuals, instructions

Less than 15 miles from the Iowa border, in the city of Jackson, Minnesota, workers at AGCO design and manufacture custom agricultural products – tractors, combines, hay tools, tillage, grain storage, and more. And their customers are all over the world.

And in recent years they've been using Glass Enterprise Edition to help get everything done.

Employees have been using Glass while assembling machinery to access checklists, peek at instruction manuals, or send photos to tablets and laptops, explains X, the Alphabet (Google's owner) company behind Glass. The technology – paired with software company Proceedix – has helped AGCO cut production time by a quarter, and reduce inspection time by 30 percent.

"Employees are now working smarter, faster and safer because they have the information they need right in their line of sight," Director of Business Process Improvement Peggy Gulick told X.

A WIRED writer visited AGCO recently to see Glass in action, and wrote about it here on Tuesday. The writer says from the outside, you can't really tell how Glass is affecting their jobs. You have to actually see what the workers see to understand.

"A typical task at AGCO takes 70 minutes, broken into steps of three to five minutes. When a worker begins a step, it’s spelled out on the tiny screen. Menu items offer the options to go to the next step, take a picture, ask for help, and more. When a step is done, the worker says, 'Okay, Glass, proceed,' and the process repeats," he writes.

Glass can explain which type of bolt or wrench is needed, or take pictures of potentially damaged parts. And if it's not being used it just sleeps – the worker can wake it up when they need it.

WIRED says AGCO has more than 100 pairs of Glass now, and plans to order hundreds more in the near future.

Glass is now more widely available

Why the sudden glut of Glass news?

X on Tuesday announced that, after two years as a limited program in which more than 50 companies have used the devices, Glass Enterprise Edition is available for more businesses.

During that time X said they've made improvements to Glass' design and hardware, making it more lightweight and better to wear for hours at a time. They've also increased the power and battery life.

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