Remember Google Glass? Those nerdy, augmented reality glasses that were all the rage not too long ago? You may know them as the super expensive mesh of smartphone and glasses, but we know them as the birth of the modern wearable market. Sure, there were plenty of other wearables around before Glass but it’s what really sparked the market — resulting in a huge boost of innovation.
It doesn’t really come as a surprise with the market being flooded by hundreds of different wearables and smartwatches, but Google has officially killed off Glass. They’re poised to stop selling the $1,500 pair of augmented reality glasses over the next month. The secretive team behind Glass that once operated out of Google’s X labs has now been moved out.
App developers stopped supporting the platform some time ago, so we knew this was coming for a while now. The good news is that Google confirmed to BBC they will continue to support and focus on “future versions” of the product. What that means exactly, we’re not sure yet.
What Does This Mean for Google Glass?
To be perfectly honest, probably nothing at this point. Even though Glass has lost quite a bit of leverage and momentum over the last year it doesn’t look like Google is abandoning the project completely.
BBC also reported that the Glass team will be under the supervision of Tony Fadell, Chief of Nest. You may know Nest as the company that produces the “smart” thermostat which can be controlled from other devices like smartphones. Google acquired Nest late last year.
It’s difficult to say what that means for “future versions” of Google Glass. Will they be comparable in size and features? Will they take on an alternate style and design entirely? Only time will tell. One thing is certain though, the future of augmented reality and similar devices is promising.
The Future of Virtual and Augmented Reality is Bright
Even if you’re a little bummed about the current state of Google Glass, there are plenty of other devices to look forward to. There’s Sony’s Project Morpheus, Oculus Rift, Microsoft HoloLens, the Visus Virtual Reality Headset, Samsung’s Gear VR, Carl Zeiss VR One, Avegant Glyph, Archos VR Headset and many more.
Needless to say, the virtual and augmented reality field is absolutely booming. Wondering what augmented reality is exactly? It refers to devices that project information or visual stumulation into the real world. For example, Google Glass would project a small display on the wearer’s retina allowing them to interact with the world around them through digital technology. It’s essentially a blend of virtual reality and true reality.
Now, virtual reality on the other hand is like stepping into another dimension. Your movements, such as your head shifts are translated into the digital world and project this onscreen. So, for instance the Oculus Rift allows wearers to look around in a game world thanks to the peripheral headset they wear.
Both of these technologies have advanced considerably since Google Glass and the Oculus Rift — one of the first modern virtual reality headsets — were introduced. That trend looks to continue for years to come. Not only in the world of gaming and digital entertainment, but also when it comes to professional equipment, as well.
Imagine a training tool that allows surgeons to practice and hone their skills in a digital environment. Or, one that allows soldiers to practice their battle tactics in high-intensity software applications. The list of potential real world applications for these devices could go on forever.
What Does Google Glass 2.0 Need to Succeed?
One of the biggest problems with Google Glass is that the glasses — while still attractive — are rather obvious. Anyone wearing the platform could be easily spotted in the wild and there’s no question what they actually are. Even folks that have no idea what Glass is, would frequently ask wearers what they do and why they’re wearing them. Point being, everyone knows you’re wearing some piece of technology, be it augmented reality glasses or a POV camera of some sort.
The next is the price tag, which is pretty outrageous for most. Sure the extremists jumped on the $1,500 device right away wanting to try it for themselves. It’s a pretty amazing device to be honest, but we’ll argue all day long it’s not worth the price tag. Judging by the fact that Google is — sort of — closing up shop at this point it looks like that might be a viable claim.
The final problem is that the platform needs to solve a practical problem. Sure one could argue that smartwatches and fitness trackers don’t offer much in the way of practicality but the truth is, they offer convenience. They work as an augmentation or compliment to modern smartphones, allowing users to receive notifications, messages and data right on their wrist. They eliminate the need to pull your phone out of your pocket every few minutes, or check them while you’re driving. Glass on the other hand, doesn’t actually do anything like that. There are a ton of cool features offered, don’t get us wrong. But for $1,500, it’s difficult to justify a pair of glasses that transmit smartphone apps in the real world and record everything you see on a daily basis.
What About Privacy?
One of the most obvious qualms people had with Glass is that it invaded their privacy. Restaurants went so far as to ban the platform and its users from entering their establishment with them on. News sources and reporters questioned the implication of an always connected augmented reality headset. The list of privacy concerns went on for days. While privacy is certainly nothing to scoff at, we’d argue that Glass is no different than a smartphone these days. It might be difficult to discern whether someone is recording you with Glass, but it could also be just as difficult for you to discern whether someone is taking a selfie or recording you outright with their smartphone.
Make no mistake about it, Glass won’t be the only platform to include such features and it won’t be the last. More platforms will crop up.
Say Goodbye to Google Glass for Now
Few news channels have been covering the platform and related information for a while now. Like we said above, a lot of momentum behind the platform died out some time ago. Wearables and smartwatches are all the rage these days, and have since replaced Glass completely. That’s not a bad thing, because most smartwatches and fitness trackers offer a lot more bang — and practicality — for your buck. Even the most expensive smartwatch doesn’t cost anywhere near as much as Glass as $1,500.
For now, it’s time to say goodbye to the Glass we’ve known. In due time we may see another “future version” crop up, one that offers new features, new functionality or an entirely new design. Let’s hope Google’s engineers take the time to iron out the platform’s kinks and come up with something truly innovative and worthy of its name.
What do you think of the news? Do you think there’s still a future for Glass or similar devices? Do you feel that smartwatches and modern wearables render them useless? Which one of the upcoming virtual and augmented reality platforms are you most excited for?