Google has announced it will be ending the sale of its Google Glass eyewear, which was initially launched in the U.S in 2013 and revealed in the UK last summer. The Explorer programme, which previously gave software developers the chance to buy the product for $1,500 will close, with work now set to be carried out by a different division.
Despite expectations for a full consumer launch, the firm has now announced it will stop taking orders for the product, but will continue to support companies that are currently using Glass. The company has insisted it is still committed to the launch of its smart glasses as a consumer product, but for now will stop producing Glass in its current form and instead focus on future versions of the product.
The Glass team will be moving from the Google X division which uses “blue sky” research, to instead become a separate undertaking under current manager Ivy Ross. She and the team will report to Chief Executive Tony Fadell of Nest, the home automation business, which was acquired by Google a year ago.
Google has given no timescale for the launch of any new product, but says that the project has now broken ground, which “allowed us to learn what’s important to consumers and enterprises alike,” proving experimental for the programme.
Early users of Glass were met with an exciting, innovative product, enabling them to receive information in a small screen above their right eye and do anything from take pictures and videos to get directions. One unveiling saw skydivers jump out of an aircraft and beam their views to a conference in San Francisco.
Since its release, however, there have been complaints that the product was not evolving in the way promised, with privacy and safety issues also becoming a concern. Some bars and restaurants have banned the product which has adopted the privacy-fault nickname “glassholes.”
Originally touted as the first major wearable tech item, Google seems to have not quite cracked the tech giant, which is the supposed brainchild of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who is now rarely seen without a pair.
Whether an acknowledgement that Glass hasn’t worked as planned, or working to improve the program for greater commercialisation, Augmedix CEO Ian Shakil is hoping for a variety of improved features to come, describing that “we’re currently pushing [the processor] to the limit.”
This may cause problems for supermarket chain Tesco, which has recently launched a shopping app for Google Glass eyewear, providing a faster way for people to add items to their online baskets through spoken commands. Plans for the app were originally revealed in June 2014 in its prototype form, and are now available to try out in the UK. The likelihood of many customers owning a pair of the smart glasses, however, remains very slim.
Set to become popular over the next five to 10 year period, Google Glass will be joined by the rise of numerous rival devices. Intel for example, has recently invested $25m in Vuzix, Sony has revealed its own “Smart EyGlass” prototype and Apple have been granted several patents for similar, wearable technologies.