H-E-B recently concluded a pilot test program involving computerized augmented reality glasses that are designed to improve employee productivity by providing them with more real-time information and visual cues enabling them to be more efficient.
Augmented reality is when computer-generated holographic images are projected in the real world using a smartphone camera or smart glasses. For its test, San Antonio, Texas-based H-E-B teamed with Vuzix Corp., a pioneer in smart glasses technology, based in Rochester, N.Y.
Citing corporate policy, H-E-B officials declined comment, but according to Vuzix officials, the glasses were tested in the retailer’s manufacturing and warehouse facilities. The glasses were specifically tested in noisy environments for audio quality and noise cancellation factors for employees.
“Our first work was in the industrial environment, but there is a lot of interest in other areas, like stores, for activities like curbside picking,” said Paul Boris, COO at Vuzix Corp. “Vuzix devices are unusually well-suited for their immediate as well as long-term needs.”
Vuzix decided to team with H-E-B because of the chain’s stellar reputation in the supermarket industry, Boris said.
“H-E-B was widely recognized for their response to the recent disaster in Houston, and while impressive and admirable, it really exposed the culture of an exceptional organization that places value in a highly capable and engaged workforce. The use of our technology – the Vuzix M300 – will just better equip an already exceptional team, increasing productivity and ensuring continued safety and compliance. We’re excited to team with leaders like H-E-B.”
The Vuzix M300 is basically a PC that has been shrunken down to a wearable, hands-free computer that is ideal for working in areas like stockrooms and warehouses, Boris said. H-E-B was “thrilled” with the results of the test and “are planning the path forward,” Boris noted.
“H-E-B is building out their ‘factory of the future,’ where empowered colleagues seamlessly connect with critical data, systems and each other,” Boris said. “This interaction is always with them, heads up and hands fee – allowing them to be far safer and more productive, all while ensuring the safest food chain possible.”
H-E-B is the largest private employer in Texas, operating more than 340 stores in Texas and Mexico, with at least eight additional units under construction. It has $24 billion in annual sales and more than 100,000 employees, and operates a number of manufacturing facilities across the Lone Star State. In September, H-E-B announced plans to build a new snack food plant near its Houston distribution center.