Google Glass: Business Tool Or Geeky Toy?

Google Glass may be the latest in whiz-bang technologies, but some channel partners believe that, while it might start out as a consumer-level toy, the wearable eyeglass-type computing device may eventually evolve into a genuine business-to-business sales opportunity.

The potential for business applications ignited the imagination of Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, a Westboro, Mass-based Google partner, who anticipates seeing business-focused Google Glass applications within the next two years in areas such as warehouses, research facilities and even law enforcement.

"Long term, I could see it going to industries where having a heads-up display would be useful," he said. "I'm thinking of environments like warehousing and distribution where you can have product location information projected directly to folks responsible for that, and still have them be able to use both hands. I could also see it being used in medical research and in pharmacy research, or basically any kind of lab environment where your hands are busy, but you still need to convey or record information. Potentially down the road, I could see it having a role in law enforcement. Instead of having police officers typing on computers mounted to the dash, they would be able to access information visually and keep their hands free."

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Other solution providers expect the technology to make its way into the enterprise as well, but they aren't sure when.

"Everything with Google starts with the consumer first and foremost, and then it rolls into the corporate space," said Bill McCarthy, senior vice president of managed cloud solutions at Insight Enterprises, a Tempe, Ariz.-based solution provider. "Whoever thought that Google would be in the business space now, with their apps and some of their other functionalities. I don't know what the use cases for Google Glass might be, but it seems like anything Google does will eventually apply to the B-to-B space. Time will tell."

McCarthy's take on Google Glass was echoed by other solution providers, in that the true business-to-business impact will be difficult to judge until Google further refines the device toward the business community.

"Right now it's clunky stuff that you put on your face and something else you have to remember to recharge," said Paul Hilbert, principal of the Network Doctor in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. "I don't think it's going to take off so quickly because even though there's a lot of hype with it, I don't know how realistic it is. But it's gen-one of the product, so let's see what happens by the time they reach gen-five."

NEXT: Gear For The Sake Of Gear?

Hilbert added that a number of future applications could conceivably make Google Glass more useful to the business community at large.

"Think about things like the [United Nations] where they have all those translators," he said. "You might be able use it for translation services, or with any type of presentation. It could also work for [business] travelers. If you go to a foreign country where you don't speak the language and you're able to translate through Glass, then that could be pretty compelling."

At the recent Google I/O developers conference, Google Glass "sightings" were common occurrences, with people who invested early in the prototype deciding to make a fashion statement, as opposed to everyone else who was carrying smartphones, tablets and notebooks.

"These are things that are developed largely because tech companies are, in essence, communities of happy and dedicated geeks who like gear for the sake of gear," said Joe Giegerich, managing partner of Gig Werks, a Yonkers, N.Y.-based solution provider. "From a marketing point of view, I think the companies also want to demonstrate that they are futuristic and leading-edge. So I think it has those qualities from a marketing perspective. But personally, I think it would give me a headache."