A window to improved efficiency

Kicking off the augmented reality revolution in 2012, Google Glass was the inspiration for an entire industry.

However, it never lived up to the fanfare and media hype, with Glass Explorer proving fairly unpopular with the general public, who complained of privacy issues and a lack of clear functionality.

After canning the original design, Google X went back to drawing board.

Released largely under the radar and without much media attention, Glass for Enterprise was made available to a small number of hand-picked partners in 2015.

Instead of focusing on the average consumer, this edition of Glass was made for the workplace, transforming previously cumbersome tasks and helping to eliminate human error.

Tech company Chironix is one of only 15 companies globally who works with Google X to supply glass, and is its main Oceania/Asia-Pacific partner.

The Perth-based innovator has applied the technology in medical, engineering and aerospace sectors, and is now targeting the mining industry as the next sector which could benefit from Glass’ capabilities.

According to Chironix Managing Director Daniel Milford, workers would be able to maintain direct contact with managers or trainers, allowing them to see ‘through their eyes’ and diagnose technical issues they may be facing.

“As a worker, you can follow a check list and tick things off  – you’re talking to your unit and it’s listening to you and you’re going through a process,” he said.

“If you find an issue you can talk back to the unit and say you have a problem.

“It’s recognising exactly what the user is saying, it’s contextualising it and recording it in a data base.”

Practically a hands-free computer you can wear on your face, Glass for Enterprise looks like your average pair of worksite safety glasses, but with augmented reality and cloud capabilities that allow the user to interact with the world around them and record what they see.

“We’re talking operational efficiency,” Mr Milford said. “We’re also talking business intelligence integration all the way down to the end user at all times and safety enhancements because it’s hands free.

“You can have a database on the cloud where hazards are recorded and accessible – not a paper-based system where incidents are forgotten or incorrectly filled out and where the same problems keep occurring.

“Instead you can record and categorise the safety issue and have it automatically filed on a cloud system.

“If you have 1000 users on the ground routinely using Glass for a year, you will have a very clear indication of where your risks are and what may be letting you down as an enterprise.”

Meeting with two of the big three miners on the block in recent months, Mr Milford said there had been significant interest from both parties in dedicating scope and budget to a Glass operation.

According to Mr Milford, Glass could easily be implemented in the minerals sector to reap a number of benefits.

“In the mining context, it can recognise objects and the number of vehicles coming in and load up a database of what needs to be fixed,” he said.

“With the Glass’ GPS integration, if you walk into a restricted area that you are not accredited to enter, like a blast site, you will get an audio or visual warning telling you to leave.”

With industry leaders predicting an imminent skills shortage, Mr Milford said Glass could help build a smarter and more efficient workforce.

“Any time you are trying to upskill people in a quick period of time, Glass can guide them through the process,” he said.

“They need to be skilled at the beginning, but what it can do is provide you with the right cue at the right time.

“It might just be a skill you haven’t practiced in a few months and you’ve forgotten, but Glass can walk you through it and help you get it right.”

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