Glass Languishes in the Long Grass as Google ends Explorer Mission

Posted on January 23, 2015

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Pundits everywhere are questioning the relevance of Google Glass following the company’s decision to end its Explorer programme and suspend production until the headset is updated for full commercial release.

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Annoying Glass
Unsurprisingly there were some unkind summaries following Google’s decision to end the Explorer programme for its Glass smartwear. CNET opted for a farewell and thanks for nothing line, saying that the headset had been judged unpopular with the public in its current form. There is logic in CNET’s article, specifically the price of the headset ($1,500), the christening of early adopters as ‘glassholes’ and privacy questions over users videoing indiscriminately with the headset.

Also putting the boot in was Digital Trends with writer Brian Heater saying that Glass suffered from a common wearable problem. It’s a headwear thing, he said, and “common wisdom has it that the wrist is going to be the first frontier in the battle for mainstream wearable adoption.” Nobody told Google or the many others investing in headwear (Oculus Rift included) that our headspace is not yet ripe for exploitation.

Satirists at The Onion opted to speculate on what would happen to all those Explorer editions languishing in Google warehouses with ‘Unsold Google Glass Units To Be Donated To Assholes In Africa’.

Glass at Work
Industries who invested in the Explorer edition are affected by a decision that seemed to come out of a clear blue sky, but which was no doubt hotly debated behind company doors. Google says it will continue to support Glass and is committed to future versions – so what about the upgraded 2Gb beta version reviewed at Techradar?

Blue Glass
Aesthetically speaking the Glass headset looks like a medical instrument so the fact that Explorer was trialling in forward-thinking medical and veterinary schools means that Google has an installer base that it must keep happy. Start up company Augmedix, whose idea is an app for medical data entry, says it is relaxed about Google’s announcement.

It turns out that blue collar managers in industries like construction are also big fans of Glass, seeing the technology as a way to retain experienced older workers in training new recruits.

Speaks
Google Speaks
The company issued a statement along with its decision on the Glass Explorer programme. Here it is (mostly):
Explorers, we asked you to be pioneers, and you took what we started and went further than we ever could have dreamed: from the large hadron collider at CERN, to the hospital operating table; the grass of your backyard to the courts of Wimbledon; in fire stations, recording studios, kitchens, mountain tops and more. Glass was in its infancy, and you took those very first steps and taught us how to walk. Well, we still have some work to do, but now we’re ready to put on our big kid shoes and learn how to run.

Since we first met, interest in wearables has exploded and today it’s one of the most exciting areas in technology. Glass at Work has been growing and we’re seeing incredible developments with Glass in the workplace. As we look to the road ahead, we realize that we’ve outgrown the lab and so we’re officially “graduating” from Google[x] to be our own team here at Google. We’re thrilled to be moving even more from concept to reality.”

And…
As part of this transition, we’re closing the Explorer Program so we can focus on what’s coming next… In the meantime, we’re continuing to build for the future, and you’ll start to see future versions of Glass when they’re ready.”

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