Recently, tech giant Google went back on their insistence that the future of wearable technology will be fixed to your eyeballs. Their recent withdrawal of Google Glass, both from general sale and of their developers programme, is an acceptance in defeat from a company that very rarely miss. With Google now cowering back to the drawing board, why wasn’t Google Glass a success? And where does this leave wearable technology?
Riding the wave of increased portability and connectivity that smartphones and tablets brought us, Google looked to grab the initiative and further that integration between human and technology. The concept itself then, a connected wearable device that could feed information to your vision, was solid.
And Google themselves certainly believed in it. Their opening demo, at a developer’s conference in 2012, featured glass wearers jumping from planes and a number of screaming audience members. It was all jolly exciting. Following the unveiling, Google began taking pre-orders for the Explorer edition. Wearable technology had been born, and Google Glass was leading the revolution.
Concept- Good, Execution- Bad
Some two and half years down the line however, and that enthusiasm has been replaced by cynicism. Excitement by ridicule. Google Glass, as a product, failed to deliver in a few vital areas which ultimately, cost it any potential success.
Central to any wearable tech creation is how it looks on. When you take a look at Google Glass, you can understand why it adopted a reputation for being a highly undesirable device to wear. Spectacle fashion of the 21st century shouts sleek, slim and simple. Gone are the days when Dennis Taylor’s pint sized specs were looked upon with anything more than amusement. Stroll by someone sporting a pair of Google Glasses and you’re likely to smirk at the ridiculous piece of metal balancing on their face. Ultimately, the clunky prism sitting in the top corner of the lens meant it would tick the necessary boxes.
Google Glass was phenomenally ugly. Whether Google failed to recognise this themselves or just believed people might overlook the initial design in favour of the concept is a little puzzling. Google Glass tried to look beyond our requirements to conform to fashions progression, and we responded by shunning the Glass’s horrifying design.
Pahaha! Look at this fool
Whilst the idea of the forever connected device was the core of all that was good about Google Glass, there were a few chasm-sized flaws that were exposed when it began to crop-up in certain public scenarios.
Concerns were raised over the breaching of certain privacy laws when wearing Google Glass. Bans were swiftly placed on them in bars and restaurants, no doubt after the complaints of many people who felt they were being spied on unsavoury reasons we won’t discuss here. Similarly, a number of cinemas outlawed the wearing of Google Glass in their screens. With fans of piracy no doubt licking their lips at the prospect of a recording get around, cinemas moved to ban Google Glass to protect intellectual property rights.
Even Google tried to stem the tide of Google Glass being used for inappropriate use. Early adopters were coined ‘Glassholes’, and Google’s revolution in eyewear had failed to capture the support of the ordinary man.
Joining the above examples were public places such as hospitals, banks, casinos and at the wheel of cars. Early adopters of Google Glass were quickly running out of places where they could look like a tool.
Innovation for innovations sake?
One other major flaw in Google Glass was the second-rate nature of the hardware. Despite sporting that chunky unit on the frame, it still was nowhere near substantial enough to provide Glass with the necessary processing power.
Glass, harnessing little power and a lack of developer support, also struggling for innovation in available applications. Sure, it could display your emails, texts and tweets in-vision, but what smart device doesn’t already provide that? Rather than taking technology to a new level of convenience, it came across as more of an unnecessary innovation.
Glass lacked any cutting edge tech, innovation in its app development, and made you look like a nerd. And the cost? £1,000. Game, set and match.
Where now for wearable tech?
Whilst Google Glass may have failed as an individual product, it does deserve some credit. Glass set in motion the concept of wearable tech, an industry that is still yet to find fifth gear. But it also established that there is a market out there for the right product, and that’s where Glass fell down.
2015 is likely to be the biggest year ever for wearable tech. Apple are finally entering the market, other companies have had time to refine their projects and find a niche, and even Virtual Reality is set for a second coming in 2015. Much of the buzz that currently surrounds wearable tech is down to the oiling of the wheels that Glass created.
Despite halting the production of Glass, Google are known to be working on a Glass mk.2, and a re-entering to the eye-wearable market is likely in 2015.
What needs to change? Well, all the things that were wrong with the first one. Talk is Google will adopt an Intel chip for Glass 2.0, potentially ending the issues with processing power and battery life. Intel’s announcement of a button sized chip Curie could provide the required technical improvements.
With Android wear set to flood the smartwatch market throughout 2015, Google could use their all-conquering mobile OS as a sounding board for their Glass re-launch. Lets just hope it looks a little less….like Google Glass next time.