Back in February 2013, Google finally unveiled ‘the next big thing’ in wearable tech, a head mounted augmented reality device call Google Glass. It was designed to bring all of the mobile services from your phone into a hassle free environment in which you no longer needed a touchscreen to operate. So where what happened to Google Glass?
Google Glass was supposed to be on everyone’s head by now, each sporting a unique style, with our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds displayed to our eyes only during the daily commute. In fact, Google Glass has been somewhat of a myth, and is yet to make any sort of impact on the wearable technology market.
What is Google Glass?
It all sounds great in practice – a wearable that doesn’t require you to focus on a small screen and use your hands when they could be used for more useful tasks. You could control it with your voice, and the device itself portrayed what looks like a 20”+ image straight to your right eye, without anyone else being able to see it.
The device offers almost 100 Google Glass apps for you to use, including the likes of Facebook and Google Now, whilst you can use the maps feature to help you find your way without having to stare down at your handset. Simply put, Glass was promising a mobile experience, without you having to have a mobile phone constantly in your hands.
So, what happened to Google Glass?
The first major hurdle most consumers faced when trying to pick up the Google Glasses was the abhorrent price tag placed upon it. Costing a smooth £1000, Glass definitely wasn’t a budget option, and was a big risk considering that it was only ever released on a trial basis.
On top of this, after its release, Google Glass was wrapped pretty tightly with all sorts of red tape around issues of privacy and law. For example, some businesses refused to allow Glass wearers into their buildings, whilst there was a grey area surrounding the laws about driving with the equipment on.
Battery life was a struggle; in fact, if you were planning on catching any video with the wearable you’d better bring a charger, as you’d struggle to manage over 30 minutes of recording before the headset died. Also, some users feared ridicule and questioning about the device if seen in public with it, mainly because it was so ‘out there’.
Considering all of these issues, is it really worth investing that much money into a device which is essentially identical to your current smartphone, and raises a lot of eyebrows if used in public? The answer many consumers have clearly come up with is, no.
What’s next for Google Glass?
Google is no longer selling Glass officially, having taken a step back to evaluate the product and work on a feasible follow-up device. But what can it do to avoid being the next technology flop?
What would be vital is making Glass look ‘normal’. If Google can somehow make its wearable glasses avoid second and third glances, then it will be on to a winner. This is what has made smartwatches so successful; the likes of the Moto 360 looks good, and people like things which look good- it’s that simple.
Specs do matter, but it’s Google Glass features that will win over your average Joes out there. If Google lets people know how Glass can be used to help them in their daily lives then people will be more tempted to invest, this is what Apple did when it introduced the iPad, and tablets have been successful ever since.
Finally, the Google Glass price has to drop. Asking for just under a living-rate month’s salary for a hands-free smartphone is never going to be popular. People will pay slightly over the odds to buy Google Glass, but there is a limit. Find a solution to all of these problems, and you might have a winner.
Luckily for Google, it doesn’t have any competition for Glass right now, so there isn’t another product people can look at instead. This is what killed technology like the HitClip, MiniDisc and HDDVD, with MP3s and Blu-Ray disks taking charge. But if Google isn’t too careful, a similar fate could bestow its struggling wearable as it did with some of these golden oldies.