A reason to take Google Glass seriously

April 9, 2014, 12:49 AM UTC
“It’s for the 90% of workers who don’t work behind a computer and use their hands a lot,” says Wearable Intelligence CEO and co-founder Yan-David Erlich. Photo: Wearable Intelligence.

FORTUNE — Google Glass critics may now have a reason to be less skeptical.

Wearable Intelligence, a San Francisco-based startup founded last July by Yan-David Erlich, Ryan Junee and Chase Feiger, has developed enterprise software that uses Google’s wearable computer glasses to improve the day-to-day performance of service workers.

Medical professionals, for example, can use Google Glass to skim a patient’s medical history without referencing traditional charts on a computer, and so diagnose symptoms more quickly. Or a construction worker could work without ever reaching for a building map.

“It’s for the 90% of workers who don’t work behind a computer and use their hands a lot,” explains Erlich, a former Google (GOOG) product manager. The software offers three major features: secure sign-on and access to client servers, a sort of virtual “workflow checklist” template clients can heavily customize, and a video streaming ability that uses the device’s camera.

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Mass., is one of around 10 organizations that have been testing Wearable Intelligence’s software with Glass.

Doctors and nurses currently log in to the system with their medical credentials at a regular computer. The computer presents a two-dimensional bar code called a QR code that helps authenticate the user’s identity with Google Glass. Once they are logged in, medics can check a patient’s medical history, follow step-by-step procedures for forming a diagnosis, or even have a colleague weigh in via video streaming, all using Glass. Once the user is done, they simply remove the glasses, causing the software to erase all user and patient data from the device. (If a user exits the hospital, Glass automatically shuts down, erases the data and notifies the user to turn back.)

Wearable Intelligence has raised over $1 million in seed funding from backers including First Round Capital, Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins and serial entrepreneur Steve Blank. The startup will spend the rest of 2014 layering on new features — say, automatic sign-off after a few hours, or walkthroughs of complex medical procedures — and expanding into other industries, the company says.

As Erlich notes, Glass isn’t a final product — the consumer version is expected later this year, and wearable technology remains a nascent market. Despite the skeptics, Glass will eventually have a wide variety of applications, says Erlich.

“It may take some variable amount of time, but it will happen.”