Google Glass is alive, but not for consumers: Report

Google Glass is not dead and many firms in the medical, industrial and other sector are still relying on Glass.


Google Glass, the company's ambitious smart-glasses project is no longer available in an Explorer Edition for interested buyers. Towards the end of January, Google made a shocking announcement that it was halting sales of Google Glass' Explorer Edition which cost $1,500 and was available on the US Play Store site.

So is Glass as we know dead? Wired's Cade Metz says it is far from dead and has done a detailed story pointing out how many firms in the medical, industrial sector are still relying on Glass. According to the report, "Google is selling these companies as many devices as they need, and by all appearances, it’s ramping up the number of Google employees working to turn Glass into something more than a consumer gadget that looks funny on your face."

One such company that continues to rely on Glass is Brain Power, a startup that hopes to convert Google Glass into "a neuro-assistive device" for autistic children. According to the report, "Glass can provide instruction while kids are engaging with other people, and its accelerometer can track how well they’re responding."

BrainPower's founder Ned Sahin also defended Glass and told Wired, that "it’s (Glass) still a much-matured device, certainly compared to the wearable stuff coming out of startups and other companies today."

For starters, Glass was one of the most awaited projects from Google and given that Google co-founder Sergey Brin was seen roaming everywhere with Glass, most had assumed that it would be a matter of time before the device would be made available to the public. After the end of the Explorer sales, New York Times' Nick Bilton did a detailed story highlighting exactly how the whole Glass project went off the rails. He pointed out how Glass had always been a prototype in the eyes of even those who were working on the project.

It should be noted though that no one had ever said that Glass was entirely dead. The Wired piece for instance does have some contradictions where Glass' use is concerned and points how even Astro Teller, the head of Google X, couldn't wear the smart-glasses because "it was just frustrating." The piece also end up repeating the point made by New York Times' story: Google Glass was hardly a finished product when it was released to the public.

Also it was clear even though sales of Glass were stopped, the device would continue evolving at Google. A big indicator to this was the fact that Glass was made into a separate division, one that now operates outside of Google X.  Glass is now headed by veteran marketing executive Ivy Ross and Tony Fadell, who played an instrumental role in the design of Apple’s iPod and Nest Labs' smart thermostat, a company that Google bought for $3.2 billion last year.

NYT had pointed out Fadell will "redesign the product from scratch" and that "there will be no public experimentation." If Fadell does redesign the product, we are unlikely to see it hit the market, at least the consumer version, anytime soon, which might actually be a good thing. Earlier in November Wired had also done a piece on how killing Google Glass was perhaps the only way to save it.

The article had noted how Google's failure with hardware and the high price of Glass meant that it wasn't cut out for commercial success, at least not yet. The report had quoted JP Gownder, who covers the wearable device market for Forrester Research, as saying, "People don’t know what to do with these devices."

From the looks of it start-ups like Brain-Power are able to use Google Glass for medical benefits where autistic children are concerned. But as the NYT piece had rightly pointed out for now the general public hasn't really embraced Glass.


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