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Google’s Project Glass smart glasses initiative is generating a lot of excitement among technology enthusiasts. Now SAP and Vuzix have teamed up to create augmented reality glasses, showing that they are not just for consumers but for manufacturers, logistics companies, and service technicians as well.

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The smart glasses connect with a smartphone to access data that is then displayed on a screen in front of the wearer’s eye. The wearer controls the device by giving it voice commands. For example, smart glasses can guide warehouse workers to the products on their pick lists. At the shelf they can scan the barcode to make sure they have the right item and confirm in the system that it has been picked. Forklift drivers can use the glasses to request help or instructions on how to resolve a technical problem, for instance. This YouTube video shows the smart glasses in action.

SAP products that can be used with smart glasses are: SAP Inventory Manager, SAP Work Manager, SAP CRM Service Manager, SAP Rounds Manager, and SAP Machine-to-Machine Platform. According to Vuzix, the smart glasses can run on iOS and Android.

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  1. Former Member

    Cool stuff. Thanks for sharing Uta. The video provides a nice behind-the-scenes glimpse into how the glasses work and the efficiencies they generate in a warehouse environment but gets you thinking about other places they would come in handy.

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  2. Former Member

    Impressive Uta

    We normally see a different adoption rate in the B2C vs B2B environment. If I look back in time from phone to cordless phones to mobiles to smart phones, the device to human distance has been reducing and systems were getting smarter. But the adoption of similar tech in the B2B environment has been different, including the recent ‘Bring your own device’ policies; nice to see such videos. Its in line with SAPs recent statement – a B2B2C company. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. Ashutosh Mutsaddi

    Uta,

    Very impressive! Its provides a vision of the things to come – an amalgamation of Mobile (ultimate mobility), Social and Internet of Things – and many other things all rolled into one!

    Do you know the timeline for the launch of this technology?

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  4. Former Member

    Dear SAP, are you sure that _this_ is what customers really need from you billion dollar solutions?

    IMHO, it’s only good for marketing purposes, but it is too far from real life.

    And in real life what your ERP-customers need is sophisticated functionality, lightning fast transactions execution, high-quality & error-free code, useful and powerful customizing options, effective and quick support. Please, focus on that, and not on such “bells and whistles”. We know other IT companies, who invest more in marketing than in products. At the time of Hasso & Hopp SAP was quite the opposite. And that was SAP that we all loved. Time to go back to the future. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Former Member
      Dear Petr  Agree with your points on ERP focus & investments in marketing vs products – I’d add that its important to focus on the core(ERP) and also the periphery( customer/employee impact tech layer such as mobile, social media, wearables, enterprise social collaboration etc).  Though focus is important, companies sometimes need to do focus1 & focus 2 not focus 1 or focus 2.  Im reminded of Einsteins quote “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  Have a nice week.
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    2. Former Member

      I agree with Petr.  We can use glasses for checking out messages, weather reports or finding nearby restaurants. But when it comes to business, I would prefer to view the smartphone screen and naviate through, to get required and related information.

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  5. Uta Spinger Post author

    Sure, this is not for everyone. But I’m sure that there will be some more use cases for augmented reality, e.g. for medical staff. And the warehouse guys at IT e-commerce provider Bechtle loved the smart glasses from SAP! In fact, Bechtle is working together with SAP to move closer to implementing such solutions.

    What the smart glasses warehouse scenario shows is that working mobile isn’t just an iPad with a sales app for field sales staff. It’s more about integrated mobile scenarios, especially M2M scenarios. (see also Mobile Business Conference SAP.info)

    Here are more details about SAP’s plan for smart glasses:

    In case you wondered if this is already reality: SAP has started an internal pilot review. The smart glasses are not for sale yet for the SAP solution demonstrated at SAPPHIRE, but can be bought from SAP partner Vuzix (they cost several thousand dollars for the glasses plus software licensing if appropriate)

    SAP plans to connect SAP Inventory Manager, SAP Work Manager, SAP CRM Service Manager, SAP Rounds Manager and SAP Machine-to-Machine Platform to those apps.

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    1. Jodette Kruger

      Hi Uta,

      How are you? Very nice report on a cool little gadget!

      When I read this though, it occurred to me that warehouses can be pretty loud, so I wonder how effective it would be to give voice commands.

      I see that you mentioned that “warehouse guys at IT e-commerce provider Bechtle loved the smart glasses from SAP,” which is great. Were these the actual end-users of the products, or merely those in charge of purchasing and logistics for the warehouse?

      You also noted that the glasses are involved in an internal pilot review. Could you give details about how many warehouses (and how many different end users) are involved in this test?

      Just wanting to inject the design-thinking philosophy, at least in the testing phase.

      Thanks and congrats again,

      Jody

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      1. Joerg Rett

        Yes, noise can be an issue but not as grave as one might think. Pick-by-voice is state of the art in warehouse picking since more than one decade. Their main weakness is that vocal information is volatile. In order to address both (volatile and noise) issues the interface needs to be multimodal (e.g. vocal and visual) and adapt itself to the situation. For more details have a look at this scientific publication presenting a warehouse scenario of a customer from retail.

        Yes, I also believe that Design Thinking and agile approaches are necessary when wearable IT (e.g. data glasses) and augmented reality are introduced. Such technologies require knowledge not only about the business process but also about the situation of the user (environment, preferences, etc.).  Thus, requirements should be gathered and evaluated directly and continuously.

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  6. Former Member

    Very cool indeed.

    In my late teens (which was a couple of decades ago), I spent summers working in my Aunties warehouse as a ‘picker/packer’ and therefore this video really resonated with me, as I could immediately see how this technology would help both the firm and employees working in such a role – that is assuming that the technology works at the end of the day ๐Ÿ™‚

    Some are questioning if this technology could cross over into the enterprise?

    In fact, I think technology such as “Smart Glasses” will potential find a more practical home within the enterprise than in the consumer market, such as in the defence forces, or fist responders (Police, Firefighter, Medics), Hospital staff, etc..

    Its really cool to see that SAP is really starting to think like a startup vs. treading the same old cow path.

    Great job to the team and I look forward to seeing more cool innovative ideas like this bubbling their way to the surface.

    Cheers,

    Nicholas Kontopoulos

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  7. Joerg Rett

    Is this what SAP-customers really needed?

    When you google the term “what the customer really needed” you will be sure to stumble over the famous cartoon on the “swing project”.
    As a senior researcher at SAP I have been working on augmented reality projects like the one with Daimler AG shown at this You Tube video since 2008.

    Until now I have been approached by many customers asking for counsel on augmented reality. They believe that augmented reality could help to speed up or improve the quality of their business processes. The spectrum of industries which these customers belong to is quite diverse (e.g. retail, oil&gas and healthcare). Is this already enough to indicate that augmented reality is “What the Customer Really Needed”? Sure it is not. We need to go to each one of these customers to observe and discuss their business processes. We need to look out for some evidences like the demand of “handsfree” equipment, head-up navigation and 3-d visualization that point towards a reasonable augmented reality use case. The video “SAP & Vuzix Bring you Augmented Reality Solutions for the Enterprise” summarizes these evidences vividly.

    “Cool” technologies get the label marketing instrument easily. In my personal opinion 2013 will be a decisive year for augmented reality driven by the lightweight paradigm of hardware manufacturers like Google and Vuzix. Those who look under the surface will see that the implications reach much deeper than just getting the latest news right in front of your eye. Receiving relevant information at the right time, at the right place in a compact format will be the big challenge for the years to come. I personally believe that those companies that are able to master this challenge with their technologies will be in a good position – and so will be their customers.

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  8. Robert Barlage

    Understanding the interconnection between business systems like SAP Inventory Manager, SAP Work Manager, SAP CRM Service Manager, SAP Rounds Manager, and SAP Machine-to-Machine Platform this opens up various scenarios for our new business world. Automation in production and logistics, planning of routes and processes, Quality Management by integration into shopfloor systems via MII and M2M platform. Fast analysis through interoperability with ERP and BW on HANA.

    Now go ahead and make it possible to use via integration with SAP UI5 and bring all needed information on the Web browser in the glass….

    Cool…

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  9. Joao Sousa

    Cool, but most companies won’t have a set up that allows stuff like those maps, and arrows pointing to the precise location. The barcode recognition is also a bit…. optimistic from what I know.

    I also have a feeling that the video is a demonstration, not a real application running. Am I wrong?

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  10. Former Member

    hi Uta,

    Thanks a lot for the great information.

    Just, wanted to know, till when can we expect this to be available to Customers..??

    Thanking You All.

    Enjoy SAP.

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    1. Uta Spinger Post author

      According to SAP researcher Joerg Rett (see interview) the next steps are to check whether possible scenarios are relevant for a large number of industries (see Gartner evaluation) (and thus for SAP’s core products) or whether they are more suited to custom projects. The internal product groups will then examine how we can link up the components, and team up with customers to build a content model and an intelligent, user-centric context engine that also supplies augmented reality applications with data. SAP will use the SAP Cloud to make the data widely usable.   

      Already available is SAP Visual Enterprise for customers who need 3D graphical representations of an engine or a production plant. SAP specialists are also currently working on another prototype: a healthcare application that displays patients’ medical records for physicians on smart glasses as they complete their hospital rounds.This scenario could be linked to the SAP Electronic Medical Records application.

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      1. Former Member

        Thanks Ms. Spinger:

        Here is a post to update your readers.  Got my Vuzix M100 24-DEC-2013.  Did pay $1,000 for SDK and prototype M100. Have been playing around with them for the past month.  While I can see all the possible applications and integrations to the several SAP AG software applications.  Some pictures of the device as is now.

        /wp-content/uploads/2014/01/out_of_box3_374316.jpgOrtho-golf-background3.jpgOrtho-golf-background2.jpg

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  11. Joao Sousa

    In the video it shows the worker having his path visible, which requires indoor location based services. What approach to you propose for this problem? Does the sdk come with this sort of API?

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    1. Joerg Rett

      From my perspective as a researcher there are already solutions for Indoor Location Services available e.g. the Mobility Service Engine from Cisco. Some Apps have already emerged e.g. in the domain of retail. As I can see for now solutions based on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies look quite promising. For the latter especially the recent availability of Low Energy Bluetooth devices and SDKs is interesting. On the software-side concepts like fingerprinting allow approaches which are based on an existing infrastructure. To address the demand of higher precision we are looking into the possibility of fusing Wifi and Bluetooth technologies.

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  12. Uta Spinger Post author

    Want to learn why Sergey Brin and his team at Google built an eye-mounted camera/computer, codenamed Glass? Watch the video on TED Talks: Sergey Brin: Why Google Glass? | Video on TED.com

    Sergey Brin explains in the video: “My vision when we started Google 15 years ago was that eventually you wouldn’t have to search query at all. You’d just have information come to you as you needed it. And we wanted something that frees your hands and eyes. …And now, with Google Glass we can deliver that vision.”

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    1. Joerg Rett

      The two characteristics of Glass which Sergej Brin mentions in his talk i.e. Hands-free interaction and Head-up display are indeed a good evidence for (business) scenarios where Smart Glasses could make sense.

      Though the device’s ability to capture images occupies (through the video) a large part of the talk I would not put the feature that much in the focus. For some scenarios video capture might make sense (e.g. bar-code recognition) for others it might not. Also, the society is only about to start the discussion on the acceptance of being surrounded by constant video recordings.

      Sergej Brin also states that the underlying vision is to “have information come to you as you needed it“. From my perspective  this is the real challenge for solutions based on Smart Glasses. The apps that serve Smart Glasses need to be sensitive to the context of the user, aware of the user’s situation.

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