After kick-starting the ‘wearable tech’ revolution, Google has shocked the world by putting the brakes on its Glass Project.
Google Glass is perhaps the best known device in the wearables space, matched only by the hype surrounding the yet-to-be-released Apple Watch. The search giant launched the Explorer programme in 2013, offering developers and early adopters the chance to own Glass for a not-insignificant $1,500. There were expectations that a consumer-ready version of Glass would launch in the near-future.
However, Google announced in a blog post last night that the programme was to be dismantled while the future of the product was reassessed.
“We’re closing the Explorer Program so we can focus on what’s coming next,” the firm said. “January 19 will be the last day to get the Glass Explorer Edition. 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.”
Despite the considerable excitement surrounding the innovative Heads Up Display, Glass has never really lived up to expectations. One of the primary criticisms has been that the monocle-esque headwear, frankly, looks a bit silly. As a BBC technology commentator put it: “It’s all very well to create these gadgets, but they have to look right too. My friends, my wife, my children – all thought I looked an idiot.”
Shutting down the beta programme will undoubtedly leave many so called ‘Explorers’ outraged. After forking out a large amount of money to be part of the programme, questions are being asked about what level of support will be available for current owners of Glass. From past experience of Google’s blue sky projects – support will be minimal. One Explorer commented: “Never, has so much been promised to so many with so little delivered for so much. Give me my money back Google Glass.”
Google played down the significance of the announcement, saying that the Glass project was still very much active.
“As we look to the road ahead, we realise 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.”
Despite the positive tone, many industry pundits can’t help but feeling as though the announcement marks the beginning of the end for Google Glass.
While Explorers will be left feeling hot under the collar, the Glass Project did exactly what it set out to achieve; exploring the limits of augmented reality and paving the way for the wearables market.