Oilfield workers have dangerous, messy, and exceedingly complicated jobs. And energy multinational Schlumberger is trying out something that might make their jobs easier: Google Glass.
Glass has had a mixed reception amongst consumers, but may be more practical for workers who need access to data, schematics, maps, or video capture while using both hands for doing actual work. As part of a new pilot project, Schlumberger is testing out Glass as part of a workflow management tool for oilfield workers. The workers will wear Glass to guide them through their daily tasks.
But most importantly, Glass will also give real-time performance metrics back to management. "Everything is based on information in the oil industry," Feiger said. "The time it takes a field service worker to get information can be very lengthy, and can increase overall cost to a company. Google Glass can provide ambient data and information to individuals in the field. We feel that will drastically improve the efficiency of a worker’s ability to work in the field."
Schlumberger is using Glass headsets with software created by San Francisco-based Wearable Intelligence, which exited stealth mode this past April and also creates a Google Glass platform for health care clients including in-hospital use at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center. Chase Feiger, Wearable Intelligence’s founder, told Co.Labs that the Schlumberger trial project was designed to show Glass' utility in industrial settings.
"We also give skilled service operators hands-free workflow for completing standardized procedures. All head gestures and voice commands in field data can be collected through dictated messages, photos, and videos. Later in the day, operations managers can ask why it takes this worker five, 10, or 30 minutes to do a task when its supposed to take two minutes. As each step is completed in workflow, the length of time is saved in the backend analytics system," Feiger says.
Many of the checklists that oilfield employees go through for workflow take hours to complete. At this point in time, pen and paper or small tablets are commonly used because workers are frequently in dirty, dangerous environments where they need their hands to be free.
"Imagine you're a worker dealing with a big piece of machinery. Your hands are covered in grease and oil, but you need to complete one of these checklists," Feiger added. "You can’t hold the tablet in your hand if it’s covered in grease, and Glass means being able to use both hands without constantly stopping to write STEP 1 COMPLETE, and so on. This saves tremendous amounts of time."
Because Wearable Intelligence is creating Glass solutions for sensitive areas such as the oil industry and emergency rooms, they use security as a selling point for potential customers.
The company says customers are given customized versions of Glass that disable consumer-facing apps which are believed to send information to Google's servers. The idea is to have all information stay within the enterprise and not going back to Google’s servers. In addition, a custom dictionary is believed to be added to the platform to help Glass’s voice recognition platform understand energy industry-specific firms (though Wearable Intelligence refused to confirm this). As Feiger put it, "You just can’t expect Glass to work out-of-box in an oil field."
Although exact details of the trial have not been disclosed, Schlumberger is believed to be testing Google Glass at several locations in the United States and overseas.