VMware’s AirWatch adds support for enterprise smart glasses

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VMware Inc. raised a few eyebrows Tuesday when it announced that it’s adding support to its AirWatch mobility platform for enterprise smart glasses.

By adding smart glasses management features to AirWatch, VMware aims to make it easier for organizations to use augmented and mixed-reality devices running Android for employee onboarding, network setup and app development tools, the company said.

VMware also announced partnerships between AirWatch and some of the major smart glasses vendors, including APX Labs Inc., Atheer Inc., Intel, Osterhout Design Group and VUZIX Corp. The partnership means that those companies’ devices can easily be managed alongside other AirWatch deployed devices.

VMware’s decision to embrace smart glasses might seem odd at first given how Google famously killed its own Google Glass product last year, but a number of recent studies suggest that the devices may in fact have a promising future in enterprise situations, even if they’re not ready for consumer prime time.

For example, Forrester Research Inc. claims that 14.4 million workers will use smart glasses in their jobs by 2025. A June 2016 study by the Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance and Vital Enterprises, creator of the Vital View quality assurance software platform for smart glasses, found that adoption of smart glasses technology is steadily building in a number of industries, including the aerospace, automotive, life sciences and manufacturing sectors. A separate study from Lux Research in January also pointed to growing enterprise adoption of smart glasses, citing over 70 possible deployments for the head-mounted displays in the enterprise.

“Having wearable management now built into the VMware AirWatch Enterprise Mobility Management platform is a huge step forward in removing barriers to large scale adoption across the type of global customers we work with, and that’s paramount to not only our growth, but the growth of the entire industry,” Brian Ballard, CEO of APX Labs, said in a statement.

Separately, VMware also updated some of its Unified Endpoint Management and Workspace ONE Bring Your Own Device security products Tuesday. With the UEM update, VMware is delivering faster and more reliable security patches, software installations and OS updates. In addition, the update also delivers consolidated operations across devices, including those running Windows 10 and Android. VMware claims that its UEM platform is now the first to unite desktop and mobile management into a single platform.

With Workspace ONE, its BYOD security offering, VMware announced expanded support for multi-device BYOD employees and contractors. This includes new authentication policies such as continuous authentication policy, password form fill capability, device compliance-based conditional access and real-time security features across applications.

Image credit: VUZIX