Google Glass is Google’s project to create augmented reality glasses. If you are not familiar with Google Glass, instead of me trying to explain it with words, watch this short video of the technology in action. Google Glass is being designed for consumers, but the first clear business application may occur in warehouses.
Knapp AG has created augmented reality glasses for the warehouse. Knapp is a material handling and logistics software solution provider headquartered in Austria. The company’s KiSoft Vision solution is very analogous to the way Voice Recognition works in the warehouse, except that instead of having verbal prompts for tasks, the prompts are visual. Again, watching a short video of Knapp’s solution in action is the best way to understand how it works.
There are critics who say Google Glass “doesn’t yet have a clear reason for being and may degrade reality rather than augment it.” But augmented reality glasses do seem to serve a clear business purpose in the warehouse.
For large mixed case pallet building warehouses, state of the art performance is currently driven by a combination of Voice, smart AGVs, and WMS. Knapp also provides these technologies, but the company is currently conducting tests with beta users to see if replacing the Voice solution with KiSoft Vision will improve performance.
Augmented reality glasses may exceed the performance of Voice in a couple of scenarios. First, if products require extra scans to capture lot or serial codes, capturing those codes with the vision system may be faster. Second, pallet building optimization would probably work far better with augmented reality glasses than other types of solutions. Pallet building optimization is based upon showing a worker how to most effectively stack cases on a pallet to maximize cube, insure light items are not crushed, and meet case grouping objectives.
We don’t yet know if augmented reality glasses will outperform voice recognition. But I must say, this technology is very cool and I applaud Knapp for its innovativeness.