Google caused a stir when it announced it was pulling the Glass smart eyewear from sale. What went wrong and how could it be fixed?
Google’s official announcement on 15 January explained that Glass had graduated from the company’s R&D division to a separate department where it will be redeveloped into a new form. So in its current guise, it’s the end of the line for Glass - but two industry experts hope Google will refine and improve its concept of smart glasses by targeting enterprises rather than consumers.
Sam Clark, who is managing director of app-development firm Conjure, reckons Google should have aimed Glass at enterprises, which would have made better use of the technology than the average consumer.
“I was hoping that Glass would be led by industry and that various production line workers in factories would wear Glass and you could measure productivity,” says Clark. “I thought that on the health side, doctors could stream surgery from one side of the operating theatre to students in the next room - and that would be a big driver. Even workers using heavy industrial machinery who wanted some kind of head-up display, such as forklift truck or crane users who needed to know pneumatic pressure and maximum load tolerances. But sadly it never got that kind of pick-up and nobody really put enough R&D into it or found a really strong enough case to put the system in.”
This idea is confirmed by Ben Reed, head of technology at app-developer Mubaloo, who argues that if the public were to see the benefits of Glass for industry workers it would build confidence in the uses of smart glasses.
“There is definitely a good argument for Glass being used as a tool in anything that requires hands-free access to information,” says Reed. “It’s a bit more accepted that if you get given something as a tool and it’s something to help you do your job you don’t feel quite as conscious about your appearance and wearing things.”
“The police force are already walking around with GoPro cameras strapped to them and we could definitely see a time where Glass or something like Glass is used instead of those so there is a live feed back to the station, where you’d get a live view back of your police out on the beat and altercations they might get into.”
If Google can get the rebranded form of Glass to catch on with enterprises and demonstrate its capabilities - as happened with the mobile phone 20 years ago - there is still hope it will catch on with consumers.