Last Monday’s announcement of Glass Enterprise Edition 2 (EE2) didn’t receive as many headlines as I had expected. That’s probably due to several different factors – the fact that it wasn’t announced at a major event, that it looks similar to the original Glass Enterprise Edition (EE1) device, etc. Don’t let the coverage fool you, though – Glass EE2 and the accompanying announcement that the Glass program has joined Google’s AR/VR team are major progress to advance assisted reality’s role in the industrial AR ecosystem. As one of the original Glass partners (actually, two if you count our Pristine acquisition in 2017), this is also a big milestone for Upskill’s 5-year partnership with the Glass team.
Glass EE2 Overview
At first glance, it’ll be hard for a casual user to distinguish between the EE1 and EE2 devices. The most obvious way is spotting the USB-C charging connector, which displaces the proprietary connector of the EE1 device. With QuickCharge 3.0 support, most users should be able to charge during their lunch break and run for an entire day without being attached to an auxiliary battery. Notably, there will be a backward compatibility with EE1 frames, which is great news for businesses who have invested in the now-legacy product. Here’s a picture of that USB-C connector (excuse the early sample markings):
Inside, the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 processor with the additional RAM makes Skylight more responsive, performant, and efficient. Early testing results have yielded in runtime for Skylight Live remote assistance increasing by a factor of 8 – an excellent test for the device under full load. Glass EE2 can comfortably stream audio and video 2-way for well over 2 hours. Even more importantly, EE2 didn’t suffer from any overheating-induced performance throttling or shutdowns found on EE1, which brings it to par with other assisted reality devices in bringing unrestricted use of streaming video and audio.
The standout aspect of Glass devices has always been its small form factor making it easy to wear for all-day, every-day use. The fact that it’s able to get this level of performance and runtime on the industry’s lightest and smallest device, meaning with a lot less battery than others, is nothing short of impressive. This is why Glass has been the device of choice for many of our customers whose employees are expected to wear smart glasses most of their days.
The excellent touchpad also returns. For applications in which totally hands-free interaction isn’t needed, the touchpad swipe gestures on Glass remains the benchmark for assisted reality.
Where Glass EE2 Fits and Doesn’t
Continuing on the topic of wearability, Glass EE2 is best suited for work environments where smart glasses should be worn for most of the shift, such as in complex assembly, item picking, on-the-job training, QA, and many others. If hands-on workers are also in an environment where they are interacting with customers, such as in retail, hospitality, clinical healthcare, and customer service, Glass EE2’s non-intrusive form factor is also a good fit. Because it can stream in an unrestricted fashion, the utility of the device in those environments where remote assistance is needed has increased significantly.
With that said, Glass still isn’t for everybody and every operating condition. Glass remains right-eye only, so those who are left-eye dominant are still locked out. Glass still isn’t as rugged as the industry benchmark Realwear HMT-1, so it probably shouldn’t be in your tool bag in a hard-hat environment. It’s an assisted reality device, so it shouldn’t be seen as an alternative to Microsoft HoloLens as they address fundamentally different use cases.
Skylight’s value proposition of allowing businesses to focus on the solutions and the benefits of AR and not on a particular device continues to grow with Glass EE2. Existing Skylight users can seamlessly switch to EE2 by installing the Skylight client on their fresh devices and simply log in. Upskill was the first Glass Partner which enabled AirWatch mobile device management support on smart glasses in our partnership with VMware, which announced day-one support for Glass EE2 on WorkspaceONE.
How Can I Get It?
Glass EE2 is available today for Skylight customers who are full Skylight licensees (Core and Enterprise), Skylight pilots, or with select partners. As the recently launched Skylight Explorer program is a bring-your-own-device offering and EE2 isn’t generally available at this time, it may be challenging to get them as a part of your early journey today.
If you are a business with well-defined applications on how Glass EE2 may be used in your operations with a budget to run a proof-of-value pilot, please contact us to learn more about how to get started.
Upskill will be featuring hands-on Skylight demos on EE2 at the Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara this week. Find us at booth 606.
Glass, now a part of Google AR/VR
As a part of this announcement, Glass has also joined the Google AR/VR team, responsible for building products such as ARCore, Daydream, and Lens. The fact that Glass has joined the team leading the advancement of AR and VR at Google only helps to realize the full potential for assisted reality, a category that Glass enabled and Upskill named. I’m excited to see how Google’s technologies ranging from Android, machine learning, and cloud could unlock even more for assisted reality, further cementing its role in bringing the digital enterprise to the hands-on workforce.