Alphabet’s X – The Moonshot Factory | Glass

Friday 18 October 2019

X-The Moonshot Factory

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Established 2010
Graduated 2019

The premise:

Workers with hands-on jobs often have to look away from what they’re doing to access information. This shifting of focus is time consuming and can create distractions that lead to mistakes. Manufacturing and field workers, for example, often have to step away from the work at hand to consult manuals or guides while fixing machinery, and doctors often have to divert their attention from patients to transcribe notes or look up records.

The project:

In early development, the team set out to create a lightweight wearable technology that could be there when a user needed it and out of the way when they didn’t. Form and function were equally important.

Rapid prototyping pushed the technology forward from combining a coat hanger and handheld projector to strapping the components of a mobile phone to a 3D-printed glasses frame (shown below). The team wanted useful features like search, photos, and video on a device that is close to the user all the time, sees what the user sees, and has a sense of the user’s context. Light, intuitive and flexible became the team’s design principles.

By April 2012, members of the team were wearing and testing Glass in their everyday lives. Twelve months later members of the public were invited to join in through the Glass Explorer program which helped the team learn from athletes, concert pianists, hairstylists, and marathon runners how a device like Glass could be useful.

Involving enterprise in the Explorer program highlighted Glass’ potential in business settings. Over the last few years, the team has worked to customise Glass for the needs of different enterprises, with easier software updates, improved battery life, and easy syncing with other workplace devices like barcode scanners or keyboards. The team has also worked closely with more than 30 expert partners who have developed customised applications for work environments in industries like healthcare and manufacturing.

The outcome:

Today, over 100 businesses use Glass to complete work faster and more easily. Workers at AGCO, an agricultural machinery manufacturer, use Glass Enterprise Edition to reduce the amount of back and forth between projects and checklists and manuals, shaving 25% off production time. DHL employees use Glass to receive real-time instructions about where items have to be placed on carts, which has increased supply chain efficiency by 15%. Glass is helping healthcare professionals at Dignity Health and Sutter Health save two hours per day by freeing up doctors to see patients while dictating notes, reducing the time they spend on electronic health record keeping.

From giving hands-on workers information where and when they need it to providing extra expertise with a “you-see-what-I-see” video feature, Glass is helping many businesses work better, safer, faster. After two years of development at the moonshot factory the Glass team moved from X back to Google to scale their efforts and make the newest version of their device available to hands on workers everywhere.





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About the Author
Swell Investment Team

Swell Investment Team

Members of the investment team contributed to this article.