GM Introduces Google Glass to the Factory Floor

Glen White
- Lean - Aug 19, 2014

As part of its research into how wearable information technology could aid productivity in its auto factories, General Motors is test-driving Google Glass. 

GM has three pairs of the high-tech glasses that it has been testing since late last year at its Orion Assembly plant and the Warren Technical Center, both in Michigan, as well as at IT operations throughout Detroit.

“We’re really just experimenting, trying to find different uses for it,” Cathy Clegg, GM’s North America manufacturing president, said today at an industry conference in Traverse City.

Google Glass is a headset that displays information on a tiny screen just above the wearer’s right eye.  Through voice commands, the wearer can access the Internet, take photos and videos and perform various tasks without the use of their hands.  Currently, the device costs about $1,500.

“Right out of the box, we found Google Glass to help in training,” said Tony Howell, global and GM North America non-portfolio project manager. “Instead of having people sitting in a conference room learning a process, they can do it all there on the line.”

General Motors has also been experimenting with the device’s photo and video capabilities.  Workers can take pictures of parts or issues they encounter in the plant and easily send the images to engineers for review.

Howell said that so far, about a dozen workers have used Google Glass in the assembly plant.  The technology could decrease assembly time, but workers would have to overcome other challenges associated with wearing the device, such as adhering them to bulky safety glasses throughout the factory, not the sleekly shaped, lighter frames often modeled in advertisements for Google Glass.

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