Peering Inside Industrial Processes with Google Glass

By Tracey Schelmetic
12/03/2013
Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

While the world awaits the public release of Google Glass, the search giant’s “smart” eyeglasses, consumer apps are already popping up for the 10,000 “explorers” testing Glass. Getting less media attention are Glass apps being developed for business and industry.

Google Glass could become ubiquitous in corporate corridors, but it’s also likely to become a familiar sight on shop floors, near assembly lines, in labs, and on loading docks.

A big advantage Google Glass will have over smartphones and tablets, particularly in manufacturing, is that the hands-free device allows users to remain focused on the “real world” while receiving digital information. Google co-founder Sergey Brin pointed out this advantage at a TED conference earlier this year and deemed smartphones “emasculating” by comparison.

One of the pioneers in developing manufacturing apps for Google Glass is Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Companies (ITAMCO), which offers a free application called MTConnect + Google Glass.

The app, which is based on the “augmented reality” concept, features image recognition technology that will allow Glass wearers to look at a machine or device and view information about it. The wearer can then do such things as check power statuses, view alarms and messages, and monitor path feed rates and axis positions. Wearers can also share live video with others or capture and store video and still images. (

SEE ALSO: ThomasNet News Machining Journal Speaks with ITAMCO About the MTConnect + Google Glass.

One compelling application for MTConnect + Google Glass is the idea of embedding “machine vision” cameras into the industrial equipment, which would allow a Google Glass wearer to literally look inside the machine’s operations. The Glass would display the streaming video and overlay machine data. The wearer could then compare what’s displayed to optimal operations. The wearer could also record the video and instantly share it with others.

ITAMCO’s Technology Manager Joel Neidig told Tech Trends Journal that the remote camera concept will be easier to attain thanks to Google’s recent release of the GDK (Glass Development Kit), which will allow individuals and companies to develop and install Android-like apps on the Google Glass.

“We’re actually working on an update to the Glassware app that will allow for this remote camera viewing functionality,” said Neidig. “Before the GDK, developers were only able to develop Glassware for Mirror API, which is a cloud-based app development for Glass.”

Alternatively, they had to “root,” or hack, the Glass, which would void the warranty, something few enterprises would be willing to do. But with the wide release of Google Glass and the GDK, industrial applications are likely to flourish, and the implications for improving operations are impressive.

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