In the late Spring of 2013 I was selected to be one of a handful of technology professionals to participate in the initial ‘Glass Explorers’ program, essentially an advanced expanded Beta test of Google’s wearable computer or as they preferred to call it, their ‘augmented reality system’.
I was beyond excited, never mind that I could only pick them up at Google’s offices in Los Angeles or New York City or that they were charging me $1500.00 for the privilege. I was going to get extensive hands-on experience with my very own device, arguably the most hyped and anticipated piece of new technology of this young century. So the morning after my beloved Chicago Blackhawks won their 2nd Stanley Cup in 4 years, I boarded a flight to NYC for my date with Google.
After a thorough identity check at the Google offices in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood I received an impressive hour long personalized tutorial from an enthusiastic Glass team member and shortly thereafter I was on my way out into the streets of New York with my headset. The moment I stepped off the elevator and received several raised eyebrows I felt like a dork, and quite frankly deep in my heart I knew that I looked like one so I quickly removed the device and put into its carrying bag until I got back to my hotel. This moment alone suggested to me that something was very very wrong with Google Glass. As a society we’re just not there yet, but hey that’s not always a bad thing, people will come along right? I mean cellular phones went through the same emergence and acceptance period in the 1980’s and we all got through it.
Once back in the privacy of my room, I started to work with the headset on my own and quickly realized to my horror that there were just so many things ‘wrong’ with it. Not technically of course, it worked perfectly, it was just the way that it worked that had me crestfallen. The most jarring of which were the commands; literally, you have to speak to Glass and it doesn’t always listen.
Sadly (for myself, for Google and most notably for my wallet) my exuberance waned after about 24 hours and wore off completely after a few days. While Glass is absolutely a marvel of industrial design, the device simply falls flat with regard to any practical consumer use, especially when the battery life is only about 25 minutes of ‘active’ time. To my astonishment my sentiments seemed to be echoed shortly thereafter when Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said he found having to talk to Google Glass aloud “the weirdest thing” and admitted that there would be “places where Google Glass are inappropriate.”
Seriously?! I think the average person could have told Google that long before they spent tens of millions developing the thing and reluctantly, after working with Glass for about 2 months I publicly said that Glass was “simply incapable of becoming a mass-market device.” Instead I predicted it would become “this era’s Segway:” hyped as a game changer but ultimately used by warehouse workers and mall cops.
Now it seems that Reuters has uncovered clear evidence that app developers are dropping the device in droves.
Nine of the 16 app Glass app makers that Reuters contacted have outright admitted they’d abandoned their efforts to develop apps for the device. Meanwhile, “The Glass Collective,” a venture fund backing Glass apps has vanished and now their website redirects to the Glass page, and recently several key employees on the Glass team have departed the company including lead developer Babak Parviz, electrical engineering chief Adrian Wong, and Ossama Alami, director of developer relations.
Companies with cash to burn, most notably Facebook and OpenTable are still among the larger developers working with Glass, though the official Twitter app has been pulled.
Even Google co-founder Sergey Brin recently went to a red-carpet event without his normally ever-present Glass. That alone puts the writing on the wall.
Reuter’s sources say a full consumer launch might be “delayed” to 2015. Google itself says that a consumer launch is still on.
I think we can safely say however, that even if Google does launch to consumers, the smartest thing for Google to do now would be to release the underlying technology for startups to play around with.
Industrial applications – building and manufacturing, security, training – could be the future for Glass. Indeed, Taco Bell and KFC are considering Glass as a potential training method for employees.
For myself, well; thank god for eBay where in September 2013 I was able to sell my Google Glass Explorer Edition for $3500, which just about got me out of it clean when you factor in the cost not only of the device but the trip to New York.
As for the future of Google Glass? All I can say is goodbye red carpet, hello Mall Cops.
Edward Silha is a technology professional and the President of the Radio Misfits Podcast Network. This blog was referenced during the Masshole and the Minions show from March 8, 2015 and is a republished copy of a work originally published Novemebr 15, 2014 on ForwardTechnologies.com, an IT Consulting firm owned and operated by Mr. Silha since 1994..