Google Glass is a product misunderstood by seemingly most of the world. Glass isn’t necessarily designed to be worn whilst walking down the street, but is instead a technology showcase. Snide remarks from those who don’t understand Glass to one side, Google’s development of Glass is seemingly being pushed into a next stage as the product is being optimized and refined with more of a enterprise and big business bias. Google Glass has massive potential in the healthcare, manufacturing, energy, construction and ultimately moonshoot projects such as the first manned mission to Mars. Meanwhile, with our feet firmly on terra, Google’s new iteration of the Glass hardware is reportedly being distributed. The new hardware consists of a curved rectangle, not so dissimilar to the first Explorer version, but without the metallic frame. Instead, Google have introduced a button and hinge mechanism so that the Glass unit may easily and quickly be attached to different glasses – this presumably includes safety glasses as well as prescription lenses and sunglasses. The prism is reputed to be larger to make it easier to use Glass. However, unlike the earlier generations of Glass, Google is not officially releasing the hardware and instead it is being rolled out to software developers working on business and enterprise type applications and services for the platform. The rumor is that Google wants to see big business using Glass by the fall.
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The new generation of Glass has a number of important improvements compared with the original version. The hardware is reckoned to have a measure of water resistance built in and is tougher, so better able to withstand the give-and-take the hardware might be subjected to is used in factories and warehouses. The new hardware uses an Intel chipset and is reported to have improved battery life; the original Glass used a chipset from 2012 so a more modern System-on-Chip should improve performance and battery life in one fell swoop. We have also seen rumors that Google is working on a easily replaced battery pack that attaches using magnets, which makes it easier to keep the device going in the field. The refocus onto enterprise and industry should appease the fist-shaking technophobes threatening to eject Glass wearers from their businesses on privacy grounds, because Google Glass will be more often used in private workspaces rather than in shopping malls.
It’s easy to see potential uses for Google Glass and there are already competing projects available around the world, such as smart helmets designed for industrial applications. Google’s current generation Glass is already a flexible platform but after a reshuffle at the end of last year, which saw the Google Glass project moved from the Google X research laboratory and into the Nest smart device division, it is clear that the new executive in charge of the unit, Tony Fadell, has been busy. Tony has a reputation of perfecting first the hardware, and then the software, whilst keeping the project firmly under wraps (and it might not surprise readers that Tony is a former Apple executive). Far from being a dead-end project with nowhere to go, Google appears to have ambitious plans for Glass and it will be an exciting twelve to eighteen months.