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CX Tech

What Can Smart Glasses Teach Us About the Future of Data?

Braden Kelley
December 03, 2018

3 minute read

Some say that data is the new oil or the new gold.

Big data, machine learning, deep learning, data analytics, artificial intelligence, data visualization–these are the biggest buzzwords in technology today, meaning that the data rush is on.

Whether the hype is real, and we are truly living in a time when data is going to change everything, remains to be seen. Only the history books 10 years from now know for sure, but do we all have the patience to wait a decade to see how this all turns out?

I doubt it.

So, let’s examine a microcosm of what data could mean to the evolution of our future by starting first with a frame for looking at the changes in our society that can help indicate what the future may bring.

I like to refer to this frame as the 5 Lenses of Digital Transformation.

  1. Information
  2. Interfaces
  3. Intelligence
  4. Interactions
  5. Insights

When you couple the 5 Lenses of Digital Transformation with the following 3 key questions, we start to build a foundation for a successful digital transformation. So, ask yourself:

  1. How are customer expectations changing?
  2. What actions must we take to meet those expectations?
  3. What artifacts (products, services, experiences, communications, etc.) must we create to meet those expectations?

For now, let’s look at Lens #2 – Interfaces, and imagine the role smart glasses might play in shaping how information and intelligence may be created or consumed, insights that might be generated, and how both human-to-human and human-to-machine interactions may change given the potential of this evolving interface category.

A new generation of smart glasses

Google Glass and its spectacular demise are probably what most of you may think of when I say smart glasses, but there is a new generation of smart glasses that I’d like to highlight to spark your imagination about how these might be utilized in a business context.

The first is Intel’s Vaunt, a promising product from the New Devices Group (NDG) that Intel established in 2013 and invested hundreds of millions of dollars in to develop consumer products like smart glasses and fitness trackers, according a NextWeb article.

Here is a video that goes into the technology, some of their design choices, and some of the potential societal implications:

It is somewhat unfortunate that Intel killed off the Vaunt project a mere two months after showing their potential to the public. No doubt this project has inspired other technology professionals, including the smart glasses of an Amazon-backed startup highlighted at the end of this article.

The second pair of smart glasses I’d like to highlight to potentially ignite your creativity is the Vuzix 300. These smart glasses are more in the mold of Google Glass than Intel’s Vaunt, and much like the reincarnated Google Glass experiment, seem to be targeted more at a business context than a consumer one.

And finally, we have Focals by the start-up North, formally called Thalmic Labs. North is attempting to learn from the failure of Google Glass by putting design at the center and making sure that their smart glasses look like normal glasses instead of technology only a nerd would wear. Focals cost around $1,000 and are only available for purchase at showrooms in Toronto and Brooklyn because they have to measure your eyes.

Focals have no camera, and as an Amazon-backed startup, it may be no surprise that Alexa is built-in. Focals appear to be targeted at a consumer context and overlap with many of the use cases of smart watches, smartphones, and tablets, but that doesn’t mean that Focals might not inspire new smart glass-specific business use cases.

When I came across Focals by North, they reminded me of Larry Ellison’s keynote from this year’s Oracle OpenWorld where he demonstrated how managers can use Alexa to activate the Oracle Assistant in order to retrieve actionable data from Oracle applications.

Integrating smart glasses with CX applications

This led me to imagine what might happen if you collided the Alexa and Oracle Assistant integration together with Focals by North, and to wonder if Oracle could just combine this kind of interface with technologies already brought to Oracle CX and Oracle Sales Cloud.

Jump to the 4:45 mark in this video to see another Alexa and Oracle Cloud integration demo:

I could see this kind of interface being combined with information from IoT sensors and other data sources to provide intelligence (and potentially insights) to help drive interactions with machinery or people in situations where you don’t have the ability to hold another device.

What other business-focused use cases or applications can you imagine for a smart glasses type of interface?

Braden Kelley
Braden Kelley is a Director of Innovation Services and Human-Centric Problem Solving at Oracle. Braden is the author of the best-selling books Charting Change and Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire, a popular keynote speaker and workshop facilitator, and tweets from @innovate.
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