Volkswagen is presenting 3D smart glasses to workers at its plant in Wolfsburg, Germany. The Google Glass Explorer Edition glasses will be used by plant logistics operators to help with order-picking for parts such as windshields and driveshafts.
The roll-out follows a three-month trial, during which usage of the smart glasses by workers taking part was increased by two hours per week. After four weeks they were used for a full shift. Following a positive response from workers, the glasses were adopted as a new tool.
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A similar pilot scheme was run by BMW last year, workers of which were provided with Google Glass units to see how they could help improve the quality control of its pre-series vehicles. Volkswagen is using its Google Glass units with a specially-developed app.
The glasses boast the equivalent of a 25-in HD screen, as well as being cable of capturing 5 MP photos and 720p video. They also use bone conduction audio technology and have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.
"Digitalization is becoming increasingly important in production," says head of plant logistics at Wolfsburg Reinhard de Vries. "The 3D smart glasses take cooperation between humans and systems to a new level."
Among the benefits that de Vries alludes to are touch and voice control operation, which helps to keep users' hands largely free for tasks. The glasses also present relevant information, such as storage locations or part numbers, within the user's field of vision and have an integrated barcode reader that identifies whether or not the correct parts have been taken from storage locations.
Volkswagen says the use of the 3D glasses is voluntary. Workers who choose to use the glasses undergo a gradual introduction to the technology, with a short acclimatization period followed by a more intensive period. Currently, 30 employees are using the glasses.