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CrowdOptic, Augmented Reality @ Work via Google Glass
Wearable Tech World Feature Article
March 24, 2015
CrowdOptic, Augmented Reality @ Work via Google Glass
By Peter Bernstein
Senior Editor

There have been so many articles about how Google (News - Alert) Glass has been a major disappointment that Google CEO Eric Schmidt felt compelled to tell The Wall Street Journal that Google was in it for the long-run regarding Glass.  “These things take time,” he explained.  The interesting thing is that “disappointment” in Glass and the application of augmented reality (AR) is a matter of perspective. 

Yes, the hype was over-blown and created unreasonable expectations particularly when it came to creating a new consumer market. However, quietly but importantly, smart eyewear has been making inroads in a variety of vertical markets where the ability to “see better” and be able to turn remote information into “actionable insights” is critical. A case in point is the advances being made by Glass-At-Work partner Tiburon, CA (News - Alert)-based CrowdOptic. 

Very early innovators in the Glass-based enterprise space, the company has just received allowance for its 2nd U.S. patent.  The latest patent adds to its core patent USPTO #8,527,340 that pertains to the gathering and analyzing of data generated by image capture devices, and five international patents covering the same capabilities. This patent covers CrowdOptic’s algorithm that automatically selects the best of many Google Glass video streams based on movement and video quality.  

The core patent, as the company points out, enables key functions. These include:

  • Capture the sensor data from all devices with a common focus 
  • Filter the data stream to eliminate any erratic data values 
  • Prevent attributes like jitter and "shaky" video from appearing in the broadcast to the viewing audience 

At home @ work

Where CrowdOptic has found its home for its ability to provide high quality, clear 720p resolution at 30 frames per second and minimal latency, on video streams captured by Google Glass really is in the workplace and at entertainment venues.  Applications already in use cover healthcare, field service, sports and live entertainment broadcast augmentation, and security at large gatherings. 

While all of these applications are worth checking out, one that caught my attention is the use as a training device for surgeons and trainees and in emergency response situations.  The company’s software is HIPAA compliant. It is being used in 53 U.S. hospitals. In addition, ambulance company ProTransport has been using CrowdOptic enabled Google Glass to enable first responders to provide hands-free real-time and real close feeds of patients to receiving hospitals while they are in transit.

The impressive part of the CrowdOptic solution is not only the clarity of the picture sent but the algorithm’s ability to pick the best video feed.  Given that this is being used for surgeon training, seeing the best possible according to strict guidelines is why the solution has become popular.  And, the view as the video shows is close and clear.

What is also interesting is the security aspect of using a CrowdOptic solution.  With all of the discussion now about the need for police to be able to capture video of events they are involved, the CrowdOptic solution would seem to be a natural fit.  It is already being used in several large stadiums for just this type of surveillance and recording. 

Certainly Google Glass is less intrusive and lighter weight than other wearables that have been mentioned for mobile security agents of all types. In fact, maybe Mr. Schmidt would like to adjust the pricing on Glass to make such a solution affordable for law enforcement agencies in the U.S.  We are all aware from watching the movies of our armed forces and their night glasses.  Being able to see better at any time is something that can give us all peace of mind.

In the meantime, don’t write off Google Glass or its competitors.  The use cases are not about promise but are real and augmentation of reality only enhances their value. Like good wine, Google Glass has just needed some time. Fortunately, their CEO is willing to be patient and companies like CrowdOptic are making the case without the wait. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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