Google Glass is dead. Long live Google Glass. Or at least that’s what Google will have you believe. Amongst all the reports of Google possibly shelving their high-profile project and developers jumping ship to the Apple watch and other platforms, it’s hard to believe that it was only back in 2012, that Google Glass was introduced by the Mountain View, CA-based internet giant amidst a lot of fanfare and hailed as the future of smart wearables. Early adopters were eager to get into Google’s ‘Explorer Program’ when finally launched as an experimental project, everybody seemed to want one even with an astronomical $1,500 price tag.
Ever since then, Google Glass has faced its share of issues, both real and perceived. Some people derided it for being expensive and cumbersome. Others expressed concerns about privacy. As if reports that Google Glass induces headaches, has an abysmal battery life and overheats weren’t bad enough, several people (almost always men) with glass were reported for boorish behavior and inconsiderate attitude, and eventually, the glass was banned from most public establishments including but not limited to movie theaters, restaurants, bars and casinos to address those privacy concerns, by aiming to stop probable surreptitious recordings by the so-called “glassholes” – an entirely new word coined by sections of the online media. That, in tandem with the inordinately high pricing didn’t make the new technology any more desirable for mainstream consumers. It was in the background of this negative press that Google had to end the Explorer program and entrepreneurs who invested time, money and energy in developing for the platform, were faced with the possibility that all their hard work might have been for naught. While some like Blipper CEO Ambarish Mitra took the reversal in his stride, some others like Matthew Goldman, CEO of Wallaby Financial rues that developing for Glass hasn’t been profitable.
However, reports of Google Glass’ death may have been greatly exaggerated. Those of us old enough to remember a time before mobile phones, can recall some of the concerns regarding the devices as the technology became more mainstream. The same concerns about privacy and ease-of-use made some sections of people suspicious about the devices that have since become ubiquitous and indispensable to most of us. The first cell phones were ugly, lacked in ergonomics and just weren’t that useful for most people, just like Glass. But as the years have rolled by, the benefits of these devices have come to far outweigh any concerns. The mobile phone and Google Glass are very different products, but it’s still an example of the way technology evolves and how we evolve to accept it. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt says that the project as a whole hasn’t been shelved in its entirety and that it was moved under Nest’s Tony Fadell because Glass is “still a big and very fundamental platform” for Google. If we are to take that at face value, we can expect Google to come out with a new version of Glass at some stage as wearable devices become lighter, less obtrusive and more intrinsic to our everyday existence.