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    HR through the augmented reality looking glass

    You've probably heard something about Google Glass, one of the more recent in a long line of experimental technologies currently under development by the technology giant. If you are unfamiliar with the project, essentially 'Glass' is a new kind of wearable computer, that is worn like and sort of resembles a pair ofGoogle Glass Prototype glasses, and (theoretically), supply the wearer with a display of information in smartphone-like format, and in a hands-free manner. Further, the Glasses can interact with the Internet via natural language voice commands spoken by the wearer.

    Additionally, sporting these kind of super cool, (ok, I think they are cool), accessory 'smart' glasses currently marks the wearer as someone absolutely on the cutting-edge of new technology, and quite possibly a close personal friend of someone in a really high place at Google. While Google Glass, and it's eventual copy cat technologies, (you can read up on what Microsoft is up to with its version of the smart, augmented reality glasses here), are some ways away from widespread availability, not to mention acceptance and deployment, the buzz surrounding these technologies is continually growing - and not just in geekery circles. Even venerable Time Magazine, named Google Glass one of its '10 Best Inventions of the Year for 2012'.

    The fact is, chances are like smartphones and tablets and QR codes and RFID chips and scores of other technologies before and since, augmented reality (AR) 'smart' glasses are coming to a workplace near you. Maybe not for a while, but perhaps by 2014 a workable, practical version of Google Glass or the Microsoft version will be the busy HR and Talent executives 'must have' technology accessory - sort of the 2014 version of the corporate recruiting iPad app.

    Just what would you as an HR or Talent pro actually do with a pair of AR glasses?  Well some details on the usage patterns envisioned for the Microsoft project might give some clues:

    The device described in Microsoft’s patent application is not intended to be used throughout the day as you are getting around. It focuses on live events like sports games or concerts, and tries to enhance your experience by beaming text and audio overlays to the action in the field. Which makes the device much more simple, since Microsoft knows you should be relatively stationary while wearing it, and won’t have to worry about you walking into stuff while trying to read information hovering in front of you.

    Makes a little more sense now, right? You are sitting at the Knicks game, you pop on the AR glasses, and with a few simple voice commands you 'see' game or player statistics, a menu of options from the concession stand, maybe a live traffic report to help you decide whether to leave a few minutes early to beat the traffic.  The AR glasses are meant to improve and enhance the real-world and real world events, not substitute them for something else on the screen.

    In HR and Talent, what 'real' events could use a dose of AR enhancement? I am sure there are plenty, but here are just a couple of ideas where having real time and private access to additional information would be of great benefit:

    Candidate Interviews - Feedback from references, instant assessment of candidate body language and verbal cues, real-time fact-checking for candidate job history - what wouldn't these AR glasses be useful for in interviews?

    Performance Management Discussions - Context is everything in these discussions. Wouldn't it be cool to have a 'live feed' of the last 3 months of peer comments scrolling by as you chat with an employee about their need to be more of a 'team player.'

    Talent Planning Sessions - it would be cool to see the updated and real-time financial performance of each unit for the execs under discussion just as the CEO is advocating for one of their golfing buddies for a plum assignment or promotion

    And in one last and final benefit, early HR adoption of the smart AR glasses would send an important message that no one, I mean no one, can out geek HR! 

    And one really last point - I recently got some new glasses, they may or may not be prototype AR glasses.

    Have a great week all! 

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    Reader Comments (2)

    If HR started using these glasses while having one on one discussions, it would give me the total shits. Even though the wearer may still be able to look in the direction of the person they are talking to, it would be akin to them reading their emails while having the conversation. Nothing sucks more than trying to have a really important conversation with someone reading at the same time.

    I think the glasses would be spectacular as a device for individuals to be in a virtual group at an event - how cool would it be if someone from the other end of the sports field could show a picture to the other wearers of some game play everyone else missed out on!

    Or even for someone to stream live video through for emergency services operators to give instructions for administering first aid while waiting for an ambulance.

    But not while having one-on-one career altering conversations. That's for full respect and attention. Phones on silent. Desktop applications minimised. Google glasses off. Doors shut. I'm listening.

    December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah (wshr)

    Hi Sarah - thanks very much for your comments. I think, if some tech forecasters are to be believed, this type of wearable computing technology is slated to be the next major disruptive trend. The idea being that over time technology gets smaller, and moves closer in to the individual. Think of the transition from mainframes to PCs, to Laptops, to now tablets and smartphones. Wearable computing like the AR glasses is potentially the next step.

    Should we put down our technology and focus more on the individual connection in our workplace and personal interactions? Sure. Will we be able to? We will see.

    Thanks again for reading and commenting!

    December 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterSteve

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