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Google's former 'Glass at Work' chief talks smartglasses in the enterprise

Al Sacco | July 9, 2014
In April, Google launched "Glass at Work," a program that certifies Glass-related products and services from third-party vendors for use in enterprise environments. The company last month announced its first five official "Glass at Work" partners and took some significant steps toward legitimizing its Glass smartglasses in the enterprise.

In April, Google launched "Glass at Work," a program that certifies Glass-related products and services from third-party vendors for use in enterprise environments. The company last month announced its first five official "Glass at Work" partners and took some significant steps toward legitimizing its Glass smartglasses in the enterprise.

Today, the man who created the program and led the Glass at Work team, Eric Johnsen, announced his departure from Google to join APX Labs, one of the first five Glass at Work Partners, as its new vice president of business development. (Google says it already appointed a replacement for Johnsen, but it hasn't announced the news and isn't sharing the new Glass at Work leader's identity.) 

APX (pronounced "apex") Labs makes "Skylight" software that connects legacy business systems to Glass and other smartglasses. APX Labs says the Skylight platform is currently in use at number of Fortune 500 companies, in industries including field service, healthcare, logistics, manufacturing, and oil in gas.

CIO: For some background, what exactly is Glass at Work?

Eric Johnsen: Glass at Work is a go-to-market [program] for Glass in the enterprise. It's figuring out how to service the enterprise space with Glass and the Glass ecosystem of partners. It's similar to any other certification program or partner program. It makes it easy for customers to figure out who to work with and to feel comfortable with ... as they look to solve their specific problems.

 CIO: Did you have any background in wearable tech or smartglasses before your experience with Glass at Work?

EJ: Not before joining the Google(x) team. The space is pretty new. (Google(x) is the name of the company's "secret" innovation lab and the team of people who work in it.)

CIO: Google announced its first Glass at Work partners at the end of June. The program really seems to just now be getting off the ground. Why leave Google and Glass at Work now? 

EJ: I felt like we'd gotten to a good point with establishing a whole new go-to-market area for Glass in the enterprise. What I saw as I talked to customers as the next big problem that needed to be solved, I felt like I could do a better job solving that specific problem and tapping that potential inside of APX. That specific problem is connecting legacy business systems that enterprises are using — for example, SAP in the manufacturing world, where they've spent tens of millions, in some cases hundreds of millions, of dollars on this platform, connecting that with wearable technology like Google Glass or Epson's Moverio smartglasses.

Solving those specific integration problems and specific customer problems, that's the biggest opportunity right now. That's going to be solved by companies like APX.

 

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