19 January, 2015. That's the date that Google decided to can its Google Glass Explorer program, leaving early adopters wondering what to do with the expensive piece of kit.
The X Lab project is by no means dead though as by this point Glass At Work was already underway. In a blog post today, Glass project lead Jay Kothari outlined "a new chapter" for Glass, which begins with details of how the second iteration of Glass, the Enterprise Edition, has been used in industries like aviation, medicine and manufacturing for two years.
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And as of today, it's going to be more widely available to companies who want to use the AR glasses via one of 30 Glass partners who are building the software. Each device only runs the one application it needs to, no extras. One of Google's clients AGCO told Wired it has been paying between $1,300 and $1,500 per pair.
The fact Glass EE has been used in 50 businesses, including GE, Boeing and Volkswagen, so far isn't a surprise - we've known about the existence of this next gen eyewear for a while from mentions in support pages, FCC filings and warranty or regulation documents.
One of the biggest criticisms of the first incarnation of Glass was that it was plain ugly. Even with the help of Oakley and Ray-Ban, Glass couldn't shake it's tech prototype look. With the Enterprise Edition, it's perhaps less of a priority, but while the DNA is much the same there have been some changes made for this version.
Kothari notes that the device is more lightweight and comfortable to use with power and battery improvements over the original too - though in some cases e.g. constant streaming an external battery pack is needed. The Glass Pod, which houses all the electronics, can be removed from the frame by pressing the camera button and can then be connected to regular prescription glasses or, for instance, safety eye goggles.
The glasses' built-in camera is now 8MP and has a red light to alert those around you that you're recording and Glass EE also comes with faster, more reliable Wi-Fi.
So what of a Google Glass 2 that follows up on the Explorer Edition? Kothari's post ends by noting that "the Glass product team is back at X" and that it will be working with the Google Cloud teams and those Glass partners on the Enterprise Edition. Our bet is that Google is biding its time, after the backlash against the Explorer Edition, no doubt waiting for the public to catch up to its forward thinking on everyday AR.
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