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Google Glass Helps Solar Power Field Techs

Sullivan Solar Power is allowing some of its solar panel installers to wear Google Glass technology in order to help them do their jobs better. Installing solar power requires knowledge of building plans and roof specifications, but hauling large document collections around – especially when you are climbing up to a roof or already on one – is cumbersome and could be unsafe.

Image Credit: Tedeytan

Falling of a roof or ladder can be damaging or even deadly, so using Google Glass to access important plan documents sounds like it is probably much safer than carrying binders, briefcases or laptops. (Some laptops are fairly heavy, and when encased even bulky.)

Michael Chagala, the director of IT at the solar power company, has designed an application for Google Glass that allows the field techs to access customer records, job site data and inventory information. The field techs can also send live video of the structures and roofs they are working on back to the office if they want some input. Of course, they can also phone the office using the high-tech eye wear as well. (When paired with a mobile phone, Google Glass can make and receive calls via voice commands.) Hands-free communication is great for field work because a worker may need to steady or balance himself on a roof when winds are blowing strongly or simply hang onto something stable.

For accessing and viewing documents using Glass, the workers need to tap a side piece so that user operation is not completely hands free, but better than handling physical documents. Right now Sullivan has just one pair of the advanced specs, but is hoping to add more later.

Another potential application is the video recording of a new technician’s work in the field for review upon return to the office, in order to give constructive advice. Another one that has been discussed much is how the presence of live feedback that is also visual could reduce conflict between employees or even sleeping on the job. If employees could simply turn on their Google Glass and transmit live images of bad behavior back to the office, it might mean less of it in the field. (This is meant as a general comment, and no reflection on any particular organization.)

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Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Twitter:


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