Google Glass is dead…or is it?
This wearable technology has been through some ups and downs in its time. Some loved it, some hated it, but not too many were lukewarm about the headset.
And recently, Google’s announced that the wearable’s Explorer Program is ending.
But if you look a little closer, you may get the sneaking suspicion that the era of Google Glass is far from over…
The End of an Era…
January 19th marked the final day that Google sold its current version of Glass under the Explorer program. This beta launch period, which ran from the spring of 2013 until January, was invite-only until 2014.
Last year, anyone who wanted to put down $1500 would be allowed to beta test Google’s experimental wearable.
But, by and large, Glass just isn’t ready for widespread adoption.
Articles such as “I, Glasshole” revealed serious flaws in the public’s perception of the product. According to Mat Honan, the author of the article, “Even in less intimate situations, Glass is socially awkward. Again and again, I made people very uncomfortable. That made me very uncomfortable.”
And The Daily Show’s satirical clip only accentuated people’s misgivings over the new technology. Jason Jones interviewed a group of people and told them, “You can be treated just on how you look, wearing a $1500 face computer.”
Even a founder of Google Glass’s partner, Luxottica, admitted he would be “embarrassed” to wear Google Glass in public.
Though the technology certainly had its advocates, mostly among the Explorer Program, others considered Google Glass to be invasive, obtrusive, and pointless.
So some may be relieved that Google Glass is dead.
Or Is It?
Glass may not be on its way to the grave. According to Google, the technology is simply on its way out of Google X, Google’s research and development arm.
Though the tech giant failed in its attempt to hype the technology, Google appears to be pushing forward with one of the few successful implementations of Glass, Glass At Work.
“We’re continuing to build for the future, and you’ll start to see future versions of Glass when they’re ready. (For now, no peeking.)”
And the company’s Google+ post ended with “Hang tight—it’s going to be an exciting ride.” What, then, can we make of this statement?
Isabelle Olsson, Glass’s lead designer, may offer some clues. In an interview with Fashionista.com, she stated that it takes “years and years” to create a tech product. Most of that development process, she said, takes place behind closed doors.
The public reception to Google Glass, then, may simply be the results of a marketing test. Look at it in this light: in the same way that an app developer may test an ad campaign, Google tested a tech product.
In Olsson’s interview, she revealed that Google Glass is a long-term project. She said, “We’re testing things and making sure the materials age well over time.”
So, despite proclamations of doom, this may simply be a shift in direction.
The Beginning of an Era…
Google Glass will now become its own separate division. The previous head of the project, Ivy Ross, will remain head of day-to-day operations. But she’ll report to Tony Fadell, co-founder and CEO of Nest, a company known for its “learning” thermostat and smoke detector.
Nest was purchased by Google for over $3 billion in January 2014, but both companies remained gun shy about the reasons for the acquisition.
Whatever they may be, Fadell and Google both seem keen to team up and keep innovating. Fadell, who also headed up the iPod and the first three iPhone projects, said, “Early Glass efforts have broken ground and allowed us to learn what’s important to consumers and enterprises alike.”
Though we can’t be certain of the project’s future, Google clearly intends to put top talent on the job in the hopes of making something out of the Glass project.
Will Glass Ever Be Normal?
As Mat Honan pointed out in “I, Glasshole,” Glass and its successors won’t be distinguishable from a normal pair of glasses. The day will come, he says, when we all wear them.
Near the end of his article, Honan says, “The future is on its way, and it is going to be on your face. We need to think about it and be ready for it in a way we weren’t with smartphones.”
To prepare for this future, Google made its intentions clear: it will continue researching, developing, and testing this technology…until we are ready for it.