Nicole Tricoukes, senior maverick for Motorola Solutions’ CTO’s office, answered our questions on the HC1, Motorola’s connected glasses, which target the enterprise space. Ms. Tricoukes also talked about some success stories, some of the biggest challenges faced by connected glasses vendors, and what what we should expect from Motorola Solutions in the future. Here is the full transcript of the interview:
Gizworld: How did Motorola get the idea of building the HC1? How long ago was that?
NT: Motorola Solutions was among the early leaders in wearable mobile computing for the enterprise with innovations such as mobile devices that could be worn on the wrist and fingers. Today, Motorola continues to advance wearable computing with the SB1 smart badge and the new HC1 headset computer. With the HC1, Motorola is leading the way with a new kind of practical and usable form of wearable computing for business and government organizations while redefining how work gets done in the field.
The concept for the HC1 started with the idea to redefine hands-free mobility and change how people interact with their mobile computers – creating a new category of device to solve industry-specific problems. To turn the concept into an actionable solution and revenue-generating opportunity required an innovative framework that combined outside expertise and technology resources to help champion it through our development process. Through a joint collaboration with Kopin Corporation, we transformed the idea into a hands-free mobile computing solution geared toward the mobile field workforce across worldwide enterprise and government organizations.
Gizworld: Consumer vs. enterprise oriented connected glasses: There are a myriad of consumer focused connected glasses (e.g. Google Glasses, Recon Instruments, Vuzix, Lumus, Vergence Labs, etc.) out there, and fewer enterprise oriented connected glasses like the HC1.I personally believe that there is a higher potential for the enterprise oriented connected glasses as those devices address specific issues faced in select verticals. Do you agree?
NT: The HC1 is a purpose-built device that helps solve business-critical needs in the enterprise. Designed for field services and the defense, utilities, telecommunications, aerospace and aviation markets, the HC1 headset computer can be used for maintenance, repair, operations/overhaul (MRO) and training and simulation applications that improve inspection time and accuracy, reduce labor rates and increase safety. People across many different industries need the use of their hands to fix machines, help civilians and heal patients. Users of the HC1 could include field technicians responsible for the maintenance and repair of complex machines and vehicles; construction managers and architects who could access schematics, building plans and maps, and military defense forces and special public safety teams who could practice simulated events and crisis scenarios and also perform live training with real-time trainer feedback.
Gizworld: In your opinion, what makes the HC1 unique connected glasses?
NT: The HC1 headset computer provides a user experience with a view equivalent to that of a 15-inch laptop-size screen. The HC1 is a wireless, hands-free wearable mobile computer that uses simple voice commands and head gesture controls to access data, video and voice and is geared towards field technicians using it for real-world business applications in tough environments – whether they’re in a tight space, in a remote location or working high above the ground. The modular HC1 camera provides a wireless, interactive link to remote experts, thus enabling practical augmented reality applications allowing users to dynamically see information in context while performing tasks.
The HC1 headset computer is uniquely powerful on its own, or when connected to a wider network. Designed as a rugged mobile computer, complex drawings, schematics, blueprints, and training videos can all be viewed on the HC1 without the need for a paired device. With onboard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, other devices can pair to the HC1 when connecting to a wider network, facilitating the push and pull of data between the headset computer and remote networks.
Gizworld: API: In my opinion, it will be critical for connected glasses vendors to build a strong and profitable app services ecosystem by opening up their API to third party developers, and help those developers better monetize their apps. What is Motorola doing to build a strong app ecosystem for the HC1?
NT: The HC1 is an enterprise, wearable mobile computing solution that is commercially available though our PartnerEmpower worldwide channel partner program. Motorola Solutions’ application partners are already developing meaningful HC1 solutions – connecting mobile workers to remote experts – allowing experts to see what those in the field see and respond immediately without interrupting workflow. Other partners are developing inspection, task verification and training applications for the HC1.
Gizworld: Success stories: Could you give us examples or cases studies of how the HC1 has helped your clients improve their business (e.g. productivity, ROI.) on a daily basis?
NT: Dr. Andrew G. Cook, senior vice president of Operational Excellence and Innovation at AREVA Inc., said, “In the highly demanding and regulated nuclear energy industry, innovation is essential in meeting ever-increasing standards for safety and operational performance for our utility customers. With Intelligent Product Solutions’ Entervise™ Remote Expert application running on Motorola’s HC1 headset computer, we can perform independent quality oversight at nuclear power plants without requiring a second person to enter restricted areas. With the HC1’s added camera functionality, our on-site technicians can enlist the support of our experts at the home office in real time to see exactly what is seen in the field and help them resolve conditions quickly and safely. We expect that the HC1 will provide us with measurable gains in productivity and efficiencies that will reduce radiation dose and operating costs.”
Gizworld: Does Motorola plan to add an AI middleware similar to Google Now allowing enterprise users to ask questions in real-time, and that would make the experience more context aware and interactive?
NT: The HC1 offers a new software experience driven primarily by voice input and augmented by head gestures. Motorola partners can leverage these technologies to provide end users with applications that help mobile workers improve their focus on the task at hand.
Fully programmable and customizable, the HC1 includes built-in software for basic command and control. The HC1 enables applications using natural language voice recognition and simple head gesturing. The HC1’s unique API and feature sets required for hands-free mobile computing are built into the operating system and are always running as system level services that are available as shared resources to all applications running on the HC1.
Gizworld: Language support: Today the HC1 supports 6 languages. Do you plan to add new languages by year-end 2013?
NT: Currently, we have no plans to add additional languages to the HC1 by the end of the year. We work closely with our enterprise and government customers and rely on their feedback when determining their needs and updates to our existing portfolio of products.
Gizworld: Biggest challenges: What are the biggest challenges faced my connected vendors today? Health issues? Battery life? How does Motorola tackle those issues?
NT: Motorola Solutions delivers new design innovations like the HC1 from deep customer insights and from our heritage of deploying advanced and reliable technologies within enterprise and government environments.
The HC1 was specifically designed for industrial and enterprise markets from its rugged design to removable battery and multiple configuration options, multi-slot charging cradle, removable soft-goods for worker personalization and sanitation, and ability to support a full worker shift in harsh environments.
The HC1 uses leading-edge micro-display technology to provide mobile field workers with an adjustable and crystal-clear display appearance resembling a laptop computer to support “big screen” applications. By using a display positioned below the line of sight, the HC1 is designed to complement safety gear, allowing workers to see their surrounding environment at all times while focusing on a task at hand. The HC1 is operational outdoors in direct sunlight, and uses a screen to display information, and is not a see-through technology. The HC1 is capable of presenting complex information without obstructing or confusing a worker’s view from reality. Users can easily and naturally glance down at the information presented when needed and return back to work. For example, graphics augmented and shared by a remote expert onto video or images captured by the HC1 camera can be presented to a field service technician using the micro-display for easy reference, without interrupting, confusing or distracting workflow.
The HC1 differs from other wearable technologies in its operation and integration with enterprise software, hardware, network and servers. It is interoperable with existing enterprise infrastructure and can use its onboard Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to connect wirelessly when necessary to other devices or networks. The HC1’s firmgood assembly and customizable softpads allow it to rest off the head for function, comfort and safety.
Gizworld: What should we expect to see from Motorola moving forward in the connected glasses space? HC1 with different sizes and price points? HC1 with more capabilities and apps?
NT: Motorola Solutions envisions future experiences to deliver what’s next. Like the HC1, we look to find solutions for problems that people don’t yet know they have, and to solve them with technology solutions that they didn’t think possible.
Crucial factors are at play that will radically transform the face of today’s government and enterprise workforces including:
1) The criticality to coordinate mission-critical and business-critical communications within and across organizations
2) A flood of information available to individuals for better decision making; and
3) The need to do more – better, faster and smarter.
We’re innovating for the next generation of public safety and enterprises – working with customers to develop meaningful solutions that elevate the user experience and help them be the best at what they do. Our deep commitment to research and development positions us at the leading edge of technology inflections and guides the future innovations – like the HC1 – that will once again transform the industries we serve.
Here is a video demo of the Motorola HC1:
If you want to learn more about the Motorola HC1, you can click on the following link here.