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Verizon has started offering its BlueJeans video conferencing service on Google Glass augmented reality headsets. The carrier expects the software-hardware bundle to appeal to companies with workers who need hands-free collaboration with colleagues.
The company released BlueJeans Meetings on the Glass Enterprise Edition 2 device this week, saying the combination of the app and Verizon's 5G service will help field workers communicate with others while inspecting and repairing machinery. Verizon said warehouse workers would also find the offering helpful for fulfilling customer orders.
Verizon tailored BlueJeans to work on Glass. Workers can use the touchpad on the AR headset to control the BlueJeans app or quickly join a meeting by scanning a QR code with the device. BlueJeans uses the headset's 8 MP camera to stream 720p video while taking advantage of the device's spatial audio capabilities.
"This wasn't a matter of taking BlueJeans and slapping it onto a pair of glasses," said T.J. Vitolo, the director of Verizon's extended reality labs.
Work in the field is one of the early use cases for AR technology. Using a headset to video conference allows employees to consult with offsite coworkers or supervisors while providing them with the same view of a situation.
"For too long, conference and collaboration capabilities have been focused on [office] workers," said Blair Pleasant, president of analyst firm COMMfusion. "[Field] workers need the tools to let them communicate and collaborate with colleagues and supervisors from any location to solve issues and fix problems more quickly."
Bringing video conferencing to AR headsets is a "perfect storm" use case for Verizon, said Zeus Kerravala, founder of ZK Research. He said the benefit of combining the company's 5G network with its unified communications offerings has not always been clear, but video conferencing from the field makes a case for the network's high speeds and low latency.
Verizon plans to continue developing video conferencing on AR headsets, Vitolo said. One upcoming feature, a digital marker, will let offsite employees highlight what they want the on-site worker to see. Vitolo said the indicator would improve collaboration, as a back-office employee could point out objects in the remote worker's field of view as quickly as if they were in person.
Glass is the second AR headset with BlueJeans, as Verizon made the app available on Vuzix M400 Smart Glasses in 2021.
Another competitor is PTC's Vuforia Chalk, which supports more headsets than BlueJeans, Forrester Research analyst J.P. Gownder said. However, Vuforia Chalk is not a full-fledged collaboration platform.
Verizon will sell Glass headsets with BlueJeans already installed for $1,140 each. The telecom company encouraged businesses to pair Glass with Google's Pixel 6 phones, saying workers can use the devices as a 5G mobile hotspot for the headsets. The company will offer a $700 discount when firms buy both products.
Google launched the Glass Enterprise Edition 2 in 2020. It is the business-focused successor to the original Google Glass. Google said General Electric, DHL, Samsung and Volkswagen had adopted the headset in their operations.
Mike Gleason is a reporter covering unified communications and collaboration tools. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily News, Walpole Times, Sharon Advocate and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.