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Google’s Newest Glass Enterprise Edition (EE2) Makes Smartglass Mainstream in the Food Industry

Over the last few years, the food industry has committed to innovation through technology at all levels. Companies are searching for new tech to increase revenue, drive more efficient operations, enhance the customer experience and ultimately solve the challenges hindering their success. In some segments, like retail and foodservice, these efforts have focused on how the customer interacts with the business, which is why it’s now common to see self-ordering kiosks at quick-service restaurants and to use phone apps to order and pay for meals. But that just scratches the surface of what’s possible today.

Food companies are also making sizeable investments in establishing tech innovation departments, whose mission is to pursue hardware and software solutions to impact their organizations; robots, artificial-intelligence applications and virtual reality are buzzworthy tech being widely investigated and trialed. But I’d argue the best solution has been largely overlooked: augmented-reality smartglass (like Glass), paired with specialized software and optimized for specific use cases. This powerful pairing offers a preferred, next-generation employee training platform, and supports real-time, remote collaboration across operations.

Consider this: Industries like manufacturing, logistics and health care, including companies like Boeing and DHL, are using smartglass solutions to improve safety and procedure adherence and to reduce downtime. They place workflows like task completion and process verification directly in the employee’s line of sight. In some instances, they’re seeing efficiency increases of more than 35%.

So why aren’t more organizations in the food industry using smart glasses to realize these immediate benefits? Perhaps some folks recall the rough reception of Glass in the consumer market a few years back, while others are unaware of their success and unlimited potential within the enterprise environment. Maybe more traditional thinkers in the industry imagine smartglass solutions as too futuristic to deploy at scale today. Whatever the reason, the release of Google’s newest smartglass, Glass Enterprise Edition 2 (EE2), will make this technology mainstream.

Why now? Regardless of how intuitive it may seem, industry acceptance of disruptive technology depends on hardware and software that deliver:

  • Demonstrable use cases (saving money or solving problems)
  • A proven ROI
  • Positive benefit-cost ratio

Now those boxes can be checked, so to speak. Let’s take a closer look:

Smartglass Technology That Delivers as Promised

You may be thinking it doesn’t matter that DHL’s realizing an ROI with smart glasses — it’s not the food industry. DHL doesn’t operate like a restaurant or a retail store. It doesn’t make operational sense to ask an employee to put on a heavy smartglass device like the relatively bulky Microsoft HoloLens and go to work, right? Well, right. For smartglass technology to be a viable solution in the food industry, we need a device that’s light and doesn’t impede employees’ vision or efficiency − a device with strong computing capabilities that is powered by software solutions developed for industry-specific use cases.

It’s still surprising for some people to learn that smartglass solutions for food companies have been under development for the last four years — by the Glass team and EyeSucceed — and are market-ready today.

Google makes the hardware, Glass Enterprise Edition, and relies on a network of software developers to enable its devices. EyeSucceed is the only Glass team’s partner focused on creating smartglass software solutions for the food industry.

A Bit of History

EyeSucceed is a wholly owned subsidiary of NSF International, a global public health and safety organization that has been supporting the food industry for 75 years. NSF certifies food equipment around the globe and conducts over 180,000 food safety and quality audits across the supply chain per year. NSF started its smartglass journey in partnership with Google in 2014, just after Glass was unveiled.

NSF had the idea for a remote audit using Glass and thought Google would be perfect to test the use case: NSF conducts food safety audits in the foodservice facilities on every Google campus around the world. Traditionally, audits are performed on-site and the facility manager follows the auditor during the visit, not fully engaging hands on in the process. The NSF hypothesis was that if the manager were to wear the Glass and livestream what they saw — through two-way communication from the device to the auditor anywhere in the world — it would provide a much better learning experience than a standard audit. And without the need for auditors to lose several days per week in transit, the auditor pool could be kept lean in number, tightening the team’s calibration.

The technology was successfully piloted in December 2014 and met those objectives. There were limitations, however. For example, the first-generation Glass device was susceptible to overheating, causing it to shut down and making implementation difficult. But such learnings spurred NSF and Google to move forward with improved development. NSF quickly realized there was much greater potential for the technology beyond remote auditing. So, EyeSucceed was formed in 2015 to bring smartglass software solutions to the food industry and to advocate for those benefits within NSF worldwide.

Happily, Google shared that vision and committed to a long-term partnership as EyeSucceed’s smartglass hardware manufacturer. It released the Glass Enterprise Edition in 2017, a major step forward in supporting the food industry’s needs. Developed directly with input from EyeSucceed (and our clients), the Enterprise Edition made it possible for large-scale piloting of the technology with food industry companies: major retailers, restaurant companies and food manufacturers.

Where We Are Today

Through extensive testing, we now better understand industry use cases and have refined our software platform to meet those specific needs. At the same time, the Glass team has refined the Glass Enterprise Edition device to meet the growing demands of the industry. On May 20, it announced the release of the next generation, Glass Enterprise Edition 2.

“The Glass team has worked with NSF International/EyeSucceed over the last four years to optimize the EyeSucceed software/Glass Enterprise Edition solution. The new Glass Enterprise Edition 2 device incorporates changes that reflect feedback from that partnership, including enhanced camera quality and longer battery life,” says Jay Kothari, Project Lead, Glass. It can now power an unlimited amount of use cases for food companies — remote assistance, training, inventory, checklists, food equipment maintenance and the list goes on. Today, the industry truly has access to smartglass tech that delivers on the promise to make a bottom-line difference.

A Proven ROI

Beginning now, smartglass technology will transform how the food industry conducts business because there is a proven ROI for its use. A leading restaurant company with over 20,000 outlets worldwide has seized the opportunity to stake a claim as industry innovators in applying the technology to its regional operations in Latin America. The company developed a pilot program to quantitatively and qualitatively improve the product rollout process through employee training with Glass. Given the training is conducted hands-free, at the workstation while following the employee, the restaurant operations and training leaders set out to determine whether EyeSucceed smartglass training is a superior modality.

EyeSucceed partnered with this restaurant company last year to conduct a Glass training pilot in Ecuador coinciding with the rollout of a new product offering. In concert with the EyeSucceed team, it redeveloped some of its traditional training materials as content modules for the Glass platform. Restaurant trainers were introduced to the program and field tested its readiness for a broader implementation across operations. The stakeholders resoundingly agreed: This new training method merited a broad-scale pilot.

Over a three-week period, around 300 team members in Quito and Guayaquil used Glass and the EyeSucceed training application to learn the production process of the new product. After the training, each employee completed a survey to capture their perspective on the experience. The learnings were significant:

  • The Glass training modality improved quality with 82% of team members stating that the smartglass training helped them make a better quality product.
  • This method improved efficiency and provided quicker learning with 80% of team members stating the EyeSucceed application reduced the time needed for training.
  • Smartglass training eliminated waste — 100% of team members made a good quality product on the first build.
  • Team members loved the process and stated that it is much preferred over their existing e-learning and trainer-shadowing method.

As a next step, this company is now implementing a wider ranging, multi-faceted program to drive franchise operating capability at 50 restaurants in Chile. The solution is built on four pillars (or use cases) of smartglass applications: remote support, enhanced training, management tools like daily checklists and self-audits, and food equipment operation, maintenance and troubleshooting. Operations will have a complete enterprise solution providing:

  • A new, preferred training modality for franchisees
  • An application to elevate collaboration across operations via remote assistance
  • A management tool to execute daily checklists and inventory
  • An efficient way to ensure optimal and safe use of equipment

The Chilean activation will allow this company to further tailor the retail-franchisee smartglass platform to meet its needs. Once the business case is solidified it will be shared with franchisees globally who can onboard the solution and realize the ROI immediately.

Benefit-Cost Ratio

Ultimately it’s all about the bottom line, and we all know margins are slim in the food industry. But at a cost near that of cell phone service (around $4.25/day), we think the EyeSucceed pricing structure is compelling. We invite you to evaluate the solutions and see first-hand how smartglass technology’s ROI warrants incorporation into your operations today. Because in the interest of your bottom line, it all comes down to this: What’s the best solution available for addressing your biggest operational concerns?

I relish the opportunity to discuss proof-of-concept programs with potential clients. Contact us today.

Jennifer Tong is the president and co-founder of EyeSucceed.