The usefulness of wearable devices in the business world was the focus of today’s keynote at GGDevCon, the Google Glass developer conference. The event detailed numerous business use cases for the device, and laid out the ways in which many enterprises are experimenting with Glass in the field.

Steve Willinger, business development manager at Google, gave a keynote address, “Glass at Work: Hands-free computing for hands-on work,” in which he described the business problems Glass can solve. These included training, task completion verification, business intelligence, and communication.

Willinger said developers should focus on addressing these four areas if they hope to gain business user interest in their Glass applications. “These key pieces of functionality can solve most business issues. If you build these four things you’re going to be solving huge problems in a huge, structured way,” said Willinger.

He went on to describe many business scenarios for each of these four use cases. For task completion verification, he said Glass has the advantage over a simple paper checklist because it can include time stamps, pictures and geo-location information to supplement the basic “check, no check” status of the checklist.

For training purposes, Glass can offer the right information at the right time. “As people go through that checklist, at some point they’re going to have the wrong info displayed in the wrong way. If I get to step three and I don’t know how to do it, I can drill down and get instructions, rich with multimedia. The cost of having someone not do a step is extremely high. Providing the right documentation at the right time is really powerful. This also has the benefit of being cacheable,” said Willinger, in case the user is not in a connected environment.

To this end, HP has started shipping Google Glass with its top-of-the-line industrial printers as a way to connect their customers with remote technicians who can walk them through solving the problem.

That leads into communication capabilities, as well. Willinger said using Glass to quickly connect employees to exchange information when needed is the killer app for Google Glass.
Finally, Glass can be used to transmit important business intelligence information. But that information isn’t just useful for optimizing the bottom line: in some cases it can lead to better employee safety. Willinger said that Glass can be used to keep workers notified of changes in their situation. As an example, he cited a power line worker who can see with Glass that the line he or she is working on is, indeed, turned off, and won’t be turned on without notice.

He said this is also useful for the health care industry: doctors can view vital signs without looking away from the patient. Willinger said the healthcare industry has been extremely interested in Glass.

For Google, the key to Glass succeeding in the workplace is ISV’s and partners. “Google depends on solution providers. We need ISV’s. We need developers, and people who can plug in all the bits and pieces. There are huge legacy systems inside the customers. A lot of the things I’m talking about require back-end integrations into an ERP, or other enterprise system,” said Willinger.

He added that Google currently has 10 partners in this area, with half of those coming online in the last month.