A couple of weeks ago Google Inc. took Glass off the market. They say it can now graduate from Google[x], their experimental lab, and continue being developed in its own division of Google.
Google Glass is a device that functions like a tablet but can be worn on your face like glasses. By using natural language commands (as in, words you choose rather than phrases you have to learn) you can search the internet, send emails, take photos and make video calls, amongst other things.
In 2013 sales opened for developers and in May 2014, sales opened to the public. Anyone using Glass in this time was called an ‘Explorer’.
People have speculated about whether the product was a failure to have been taken off the market so quickly. Some initial investors have withdrawn funding and many developers have given up on making apps for the device.
There are a few reasons why individual consumers might not have taken to glass in the last six months.
Unlike a tablet, anything you find on Glass is not easily shareable – it’s for you to watch alone meaning that it’s not as social as other web devices. There’s general consensus that it looks a bit weird. It’s not socially acceptable to go around with a camera attached to your face.
Aside from the look, people without Glass have found the camera and its potential use intrusive. On top of this, there are products that do very similar things that we already know how to use and already own.
Just the fact that lots of people might have reason not to adopt it means there isn’t a fomo (Fear of Missing Out) around it, unlike with apps on an iPhone, and so there’s no social pressure to get involved if we’re on the fence about its potential.
Most importantly, it’s expensive: even if you like the idea of being able to follow a map an inch away from your eyeball, you might not be able to spend £1,000 doing so.
Aside from those speculations, there are predictions that it might take off in the future. Google are developing the product with oversight from Tony Fadell, the person who developed iPod, which is a good indicator of their faith in the product. On top of that, there are businesses that now depend on Glass and are based around the technology.
For example, a company called Pristine uses Glass to connect doctors with their patients to medical experts. Several hospitals in the US have started piloting Glass.
The electronics company Phillips has teamed up with Glass to allow surgeons to see a patient’s vital signs in the corner of their vision as they perform surgery. We can already share screens and so computer based remote collaboration has been very successful.
Now other jobs can be carried out remotely too, such as more conventional scientific research or engineering.
Lots of technology that is publicly ubiquitous now began in business so Glass may still have a future despite the temporary withdrawal from the public.
Some feel that a product that speeds up what we already do with the internet, mainly searching and sharing, will inevitably be adopted at some point. Perhaps Google will ditch the camera and focus on the information giving capacity so it doesn’t make people uncomfortable.
Whatever happens, Google has not given up on Glass it’s unlikely we’ve seen the end of it.