Less than a month ago, word came down from the big guys at Google that the Glass Explorer program was shutting down and the company would stop selling the wearable device to the public.
The news was somewhat of a shock. It came out of nowhere. At least, that is how it felt from the public’s perspective.
According to a detailed account from the New York Times, not only was the public testing program doomed from the start, but it was never really meant to be.
Dedicated engineers and university researchers populated the “Google X” secret lab, where the wearable technology was being developed, along with Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin.
Apparently, Brin wanted to take Glass public, even though the rest of the team knew it wasn’t ready yet. Thus, the Glass Explorers program was born … prematurely.
Because it was still in its infancy, but cost a cool $1,500, reviews criticized the Glass left and right, which eventually put the final nail in the coffin of the beta tester program.
Google plans to continue working on Glass, but behind closed doors and with former Apple product executive and creator of Nest, Tony Fadell, in charge. If it ever does become publicly available, it won’t be for a long time, and it will be the final product.
I’m still not sure how I feel about Google Glass. On the one hand, I love the concept of wearable technology. I’m excited to see what the future holds in terms of computers we wear on our wrists, eyes, hats, or whatever. The more we advance, technologically, the sooner we get to the future I’ve read about in so many science fiction books.
On the other hand, I can’t imagine Glass (or any other facially-located computing device) will ever be popular. People don’t want a cyborg-like unit strapped to their face.
Plus, it leaves open the possibility that someone could be recording everything you say and do without your knowledge. At least with a smartphone, people have to go out of their way to not look like they are taking pictures of you.
The cost is also a major issue. At $1,500 only a select group of people could afford Google Glass, which means it will not be widely adopted. In the tech world, that means it is doomed. The device would have to come down to about $500 for it to be even remotely plausible as marketable to the masses.
Lastly, the technology available right now for something like this is still not good enough. Think about the battery life. At such a miniscule size, the battery only lasts a few hours. It becomes simply a novelty instead of a lifestyle, which means it would end up in the discount bin alongside all of those Bluetooth earpieces.
Hopefully, Google will go back to the drawing board for a very long time and won’t let the world in on its progress until Glass is good and ready. Maybe by then, we will be, too.