Perspectives on Glass-based Scanning in Warehouse Environments

With recent Gartner predictions that smartglasses will revolutionize the field service industry, wearable computers like Google Glass have been brought into the center of discussion among enterprise IT professionals. Today we wanted to share some of the professional opinions we’ve encountered regarding Glass-based scanning in warehouse environments.

In prompting discussions in online professional groups, we found that there are many diverse perspectives regarding the use of wearable computers in warehouse and manufacturing environments. Forum discussions surrounding the topic revealed the lack of consensus opinion among professionals. Here’s a summary of the opinions we encountered:

– Companies like Motorola have already been producing wearable computer headsets (HC1 Headset Computer) intended for field service use for some time. Why will Google Glass accelerate enterprise adoption?

– Camera-based scanning may be OK for medium-low number of barcode readings per hour, but traditional barcode scanners are still required for intensive scanning. Despite this, the consumerization of IT is inevitable, and we need to be open to newer technologies which support this new ecosystem.

– Glass-based scanning may cause all sorts of accidents while walking and while operating lifts. Other warehouse technologies have been modified to prevent distraction in critical situations. Wearable scanner headsets were first used in the 1990s and there were a whole host of issues caused by having to shift eye focus regularly. This caused headaches and eye strain.

– Traditional scanners in warehouse environments can scan from 200-400 barcodes per day. Is Google Glass really up to the job?

– Barcode scanning will just be one of a host of benefits Google Glass can bring to the enterprise. The real challenge with Google Glass will be managing privacy and security.

– It’s a terrible idea! What if someone gets hit by a forklift?

– Wrist or finger mounted scanners may prove to safer and/or more usable wearable scanning options.

The world is certainly full of skeptics, but there also some optimists in the mix. All of these perspectives hold some truth in that they highlight a challenge to be overcome. Glass-based scanning in warehouses will require the development of stringent safety protocols optimized for the use of wearable computers. Glass-based scanning represents a newer technology that will need to be optimized and tested for different circumstances.

Many people may not yet realize how far camera-based barcode scanning has come. Also it’s important to consider that Google Glass is the first consumer-facing wearable computer to gain popularity, and it hasn’t even been publicly released. The consumerization of wearable computers, if accepted, is likely to drive enterprise adoption.

Stay tuned as we continue our discussion about hands-free barcode scanning and wearable computers in the coming weeks!