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Boeing employees are using Google Glass to construct aircraft wire harnesses

Software developer Brian Ho holds a Google Glass device at Vandrico, a Canadian company specializing in wearable computing, during a demonstration for the media in North Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday July 30, 2013. The company is developing software for the device which is one of only a few in the country. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)
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The Google Glass was one of the most exciting and anticipated pieces of technologies announced by Google. Notwithstanding all the stories of what it was capable of, apart from a few pieces, the Glass maver made an appearance in the general public.

However, it would appear that Boeing has already begun deploying them into its manufacturing processes with some success. So, should we be excited or scared witless?

Yes. Although Google has kept from launching the device in the public from now, and its next eyewear is supposed to lay significant focus on enterprise, Boeing is not waiting for so long. Apparently, members of Boeing’s research and technology division have begun the use of the original Google Glass to construct aircraft wire harnesses.

Planes have a lot of wires which help transmit all kinds of stuff including commands, feedback, and basically help it stay up in the air. However, these wires are so complicated that technicians must manually build them out using a PDF assembly guide viewed on a laptop screen.

In case you have ever had to copy notes from a screen, you will realize how difficult it is to look at the screen, do your work, again look at the screen and so on. Well, just imagine how much harder it would be to make vital electrical connections using the same process.

While preparing the huge electrical systsms, techies must constantly keep dividing their attention between the on-screen roadmaps/instructions, and the actual harnesses. Combined with the keyboard manipulation needed to find the connections of a specific wire, the whole process can be a serious pain in the neck — and literally as well.

Boeing has hit upon the perfect solution to the problem in form of Google Glasses. With these Glasses to replace the computer display, Boeing engineers can save themselves significant time while also reducing the probability of error, since whatever you want is right there in front of you.

According to the aircraft manufacturer, production time for the harnesses was reduced by almost 25 percent and error rates by 50 percent, ever since they begun deploying the glasses in their processes.We have all heard about using glasses to see better, but this………this is certainly a drastic improvement!

The company has a history with AR devices and was one of the first to use them in its processes. However, the devices available to it in 1995 were extremely different from the Glasses of today. Bulkier, messier and heavier — in fact, more like helmets than glasses —  the processing power available to them also wasnt worth the pain and they were discarded soon after. However, this tims things appear to be working out.
Jason DeStories, a R&D engineer with Boeing Research and Technology, got a demo designed for harness assembly using Glass units that were publicly made available by Google. Things weren’t great but it was enough for folks to see light at the end of the tunnel.

So Boeing put out a proposal and finally teamed up with APX Labs, the maker of a smart glasses software platform called Skylight, to produce something that could actually work. Finally, Boeing found a higher-quality Glass app that could be handed out to employees, who could then download all the data they might need by scanning a QR code.

So the technician whips out his glasses, puts them on, opens all the manuals and instructions he might want by scanning a QR code and heu presto! No need to look around  for the guide while affixing the wires because you now have the guide right in front of you, where ever you should wish to turn to. It can also be controlled through voice commands and what you are seeing streamed to someone else for some quick, real time help.

However, the time when they become a permanent feature and we see every one who could use them sporting a Google Glass, is still away.

We have to make sure we have information security vetted, we have to make sure we know what kind of IT support we’re going to need behind it. These are the questions we’re answering right now, and we feel like we’re very close to being on a truly connected solution.

Security is an actual concern. I mean you are definitely not going to want a glitch, or error, or even a slight something that turns the page upside down on the Glass, while a technician is fitting out the connections of a plane!

However, the fact that Boeing’s pilot program is going so well means that there is certainly hope for the systems and we may see them adopted on a much more widely before long, on an enterprise level. Google is already believed go be making its next with a focus on enterprise, so that should definitely help propel things in the right direction as well.


A bibliophile and a business enthusiast.

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