Let’s talk about timing. When it comes to innovations like wearable tech, virtual and augmented reality, move too soon and you risk your potential customers not being ready for what you’re pitching. Move too late and you look like a copycat. Apple is still the master at this – just look at the Apple Watch – there were dozens of high profile smartwatch launches before it.
There’s probably no other device that was so penalised for launching early as the Google Glass Explorer Edition. And to be fair to Google, it didn’t launch as a mainstream gadget in 2013 or really the following year. It was always designed to be an “open beta” experiment in AR. Still, it was treated like a failed product.
Which brings us to the now official Google Glass Enterprise Edition.
As promised back in 2015, Google Glass is back with a bang for 2017. That is, if you work in a factory or hospital, let’s say. The clue is in the name – Enterprise Edition – as the lighter, redesigned glasses are programmed with one specific application, personalised to the wearer and their task.
There’s a lot of interesting stuff in here for the future of AR glasses, though. Clients, including Boeing, Volkswagen and GE, are paying $,1300+ per pair. The device has a Glass Pod, which houses all the electronics, and this can be swapped in and out of prescription frames or safety goggles. Battery life is improved as is Wi-Fi speed and reliability. Plus the 8MP camera now features a red light to show when it’s recording, helpful to allay privacy fears.
As for a follow up to the Explorer Edition, on limited or general sale to the public, we return to the question of timing. All Alphabet is saying is that “the Glass team is back at X”. I reckon Google is going to bide its time until Snap or Apple, perhaps, has shown its cards in augmented/mixed reality wearables. It’s not really in its interests to walk out to the end of the diving board, alone, again.
Google is also one of the biggest investors in Florida MR startup Magic Leap which so far has talked the entertainment and productivity talk that you’d expect from a product that is shooting for the mainstream.