Onsite inspections have long been a standard tool for food safety training and enforcement efforts, but wearable technology and augmented reality are combining to change that with Google Glass.

EyeSucceed, a technology company focusing on food safety, is the latest Glass Partner, according to an announcement this morning from parent company NSF International. NSF’s Tom Chestnut, vice president for global food safety and quality, and Jennifer Tong, formerly of the National Restaurant Association, are co-founders of EyeSucceed, which has already completed pilot testing of Glass applications in the food safety arena.

Described as the TIC industry by Chestnut, the testing, inspection and certification industry for food safety has traditionally relied on practices and procedures that are fraught with high labor costs and subject to human failings.

But by using wearable technology — Google Glass hardware in the form of eye glasses — auditors and trainers can augment their realities and those of employees in a variety of food production and handling settings, cutting costs and improving compliance with food safety protocols, Chestnut said Tuesday.

While the project began with a focus on remote food safety and quality audits, Chestnut said those involved almost immediately realized the technology could address many other challenges in the food industry.

“EyeSucceed is about being proactive and preventing problems. This solution isn’t designed to trace back actions and place blame after a problem occurs.  This technology will help prevent problems before they occur,” Chestnut told Food Safety News Tuesday.

“It’s a more effective training modality for the foodservice setting. With their hands free and a full range of view, employees will learn intuitively, directly and interactively with the assistance of prompts from expertly prepared training video sequences.”

Continual employee turnover and inconsistent execution of training are challenges for not only restaurant operators, but also and retail owners, especially when it comes to compliance with food safety regulations and best practices. Both can be addressed efficiently with wearable technology and custom-designed applications for food businesses, Tong said.

“The two primary gains of smart training and learning with wearable technology are the ability to train employees directly and unassisted at the workstation — even as the workstation moves as tasks change — and to do it in a simple, hands-free manner,” Tong said.

“Essentially, wearable devices like Glass are the trainers of the future, eliminating the high labor costs associated with peer-to-peer training, bringing greater efficiency and consistency to the workplace.”

EyeSucceed offers applications that monitor employee actions in real time as they follow step-by-step requirements needed to complete job tasks. If employees deviate from the correct process, EyeSucceed notifies them through the wearable device and immediately displays the corrective action to be taken.

Working directly with the Glass team and foodservice operations on the Google campus, EyeSucceed has been piloting food industry applications of Glass, including remote food safety and quality audits, since February 2015.

Employee actions — including time between steps, deviation from correct procedures and corrective actions — are uploaded into the cloud. From there, data analytics can lead to process improvements. After two years of research and development, field trials for the EyeSucceed training applications and the initial mapping of data into the Google Cloud platform is planned to commence in the fourth quarter of 2017.

EyeSucceed also is testing food industry applications with NSF International clients in the United States, Asia and Latin America, where the ability to livestream from around the globe is allowing the industry to view first production runs, conduct supplier quality calibration and assist field operations by providing expertise from remote locations.

Founded in 1944 and based in Ann Arbor, MI, NSF International conducts more than 150,000 food safety audits annually, serving more than 20,000 facilities including farms, food processing facilities and distribution networks in 170 countries.

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