Google Glass: Schmidt Says It Will Return - InformationWeek

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3/23/2015
05:16 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Google Glass: Schmidt Says It Will Return

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said Glass has a future, though its form remains unclear.

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Windows 10 Vs. Windows 8: 10 Differences
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Google Glass is not dead, despite rumors to the contrary.

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt took a moment to say as much to The Wall Street Journal, despite the fact that Google previously conveyed the same message quite clearly.

Schmidt said Google's decision in January to shut down the Google Glass Explorer program left the media with the impression that the whole project has been cancelled. "Google is about taking risks and there's nothing about adjusting Glass that suggests we're ending it," he told the Journal, noting that the project represents a fundamental platform for Google and that it continues under Tony Fadell, CEO of Google's Nest Labs.

While some in media may have written Glass's obituary already, anyone paying attention to Google's actual statements in January would be unsurprised by Schmidt's statement.

"We're continuing to build for the future, and you'll start to see future versions of Glass when they're ready," the Google Glass team said in a blog post two months ago.

(Image: Google)

(Image: Google)

When the initial version of Glass was released to developers, neither Google nor its product were ready. After a brilliant build up at its 2012 developer conference, Glass cost too much financially and socially, and it did little that couldn't be accomplished with a smartphone, at least as a consumer product.

When big budget films fail in Hollywood, sequels seldom follow. In Silicon Valley, failure is bitter but it isn't as poisonous. Face-saving though it may be, tech companies celebrate failure as a milestone on the way to eventual success. The short life of Apple's Newton, for example, helped ensure the iPhone would not have a stylus. That's the Silicon Valley spin, in any event.

[ Want to check out more cool innovative ideas? Read 8 Google Projects To Watch In 2015. ]

Glass's humbling shows that developers of wearable technology need to address fashion as well as function. Eyewear, arguably more than any other accessory or accoutrement, requires sensitivity to cultural and social expectations. Google's decision to arm Glass with a video camera ignored the fact that people still have an expectation of privacy when out and about, even if there are captured on camera more than they realize.

(Image: Ted Eytan, CC BY-SA 2.0)

(Image: Ted Eytan, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Apple appears to have learned from Google's missteps, in terms of fashion if not function. When the Apple Watch arrives next month, it won't have any features that defy social expectation. It's subtle, more or less, rather than in-your-face. It may elicit derision as a symbol of excess -- those paying $17,000 for the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition will presumably do so without shame -- but it's unlikely to earn owners an epithet as hostile as "Glasshole."

Gartner's prediction that by 2017, 30% of smart wearable devices will be inconspicuous suggests that device makers will seek the subtlety that Glass lacked. When that's not possible, mundane materials and goofiness may help. Google Cardboard, the company's paper-based headgear for converting Android phones to virtual reality screens, has been well-received for its affordability and lack of pretension.

Many in the tech industry hope the Apple Watch will succeed enough to validate the wearables market and normalize the technology, but not so much that Apple runs away with all the profit, as it had once done with the iPhone.

Google doesn't need convincing. The existence of Android Wear shows that Google is serious about the wearable market. But whether Glass will ever be anything more than a specialty interface for hands-free information presentation in the workplace remains uncertain.

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Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio
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nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
3/27/2015 | 7:12:55 AM
Re: Google Glass: Schmidt Says It Will Return
I think the problem can be that they launched a product with full features and maximum price. It would have been better if they would have started with the glasses having basic features like only cell phone and had a minimum starting price. This way people would have become used to a totally new device before buying an expensive product.
freespiritny25
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freespiritny25,
User Rank: Ninja
3/26/2015 | 7:27:04 PM
Re: Google Glass: Schmidt Says It Will Return
I had a feeling Google Glass would return. I still am not interested, but they may have a market. The first time around the gadget seemed unfinished and costly. Perhaps they will be dropping the price and making it more "user friendly" this time around.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
3/25/2015 | 2:42:29 AM
Re: Not ready for primetime
Drew, 

How cool. :D Now I see why everybody wants to take secret pictures of you. :D

-Susan
Drew Conry-Murray
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Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
3/24/2015 | 3:40:32 PM
Re: Not ready for primetime
People want to take pictures of me so they can steal the design of my tin foil hat.  : ) 
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
3/24/2015 | 2:58:02 PM
Re: Not ready for primetime
Drew, 

More than creepy it sounds paranoid to me. :) Imagine someone, in all those same situations you mentioned, holding a smatphone pretending they are typing a message when they could well be filming or taking pictures instead. And no, you don't necessarily notice what they are doing if they know how to do it. 

And, why on Earth would a stranger want to film you or take pictures of you by the way? :D 

-Susan
Drew Conry-Murray
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Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
3/24/2015 | 2:36:12 PM
Re: Not ready for primetime
Hi Susan,

Yes, someone with a smartphone could be filming me, but that's more obvious than a camera mounted at eye level. I guess I'm thinking about situations where, for example, I'm at a bar and someone next to me is wearing Glass, or I'm in line at the pharmacy and the person behind me is wearing Glass, or I'm at a park with my kids and someone on a bench is wearing Glass. It's the potential intimacy of the situation combined with the surreptious nature of the recording capability (including audio and visual) that disturbs me. I'm not saying it's a rational fear, but it just feels more creepy.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
3/24/2015 | 1:38:13 PM
Re: Not ready for primetime
Drew, There is no Glass around, but in the hypothetical case it were you would be in a crowd anyway if someone were wearing Glass. Another thing is that I doubt every Glass user would have the camera on filming a bunch of strangers. Couldn't someone with a smartphone just do the same? Yes. So what's the difference with Glass? I don't understand what people are afraid of, if Glass would actually exist out there. What would you be afraid of, for example? -Susan
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
3/24/2015 | 11:45:17 AM
Re: Not ready for primetime
>Really, could there ever have been any serious doubt?

Well, I have trouble answering this question, and I suspect Google does too: What common app do consumers need to use frequently in hands-free mode?

I can't think of one.

Occassionally, it might be nice to take videos or images from one's smart glasses. But would anyone need to do that so frequently he or she would pay several hundred dollars despite the availability of a smartphone in a pocket?
Drew Conry-Murray
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Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
3/24/2015 | 11:38:35 AM
Re: Not ready for primetime
@Susan I don't think it's that no one believes they aren't being watched. I think Google Glass personalized persistent surveillance--the device literally put it in your face. I personally find that more uncomfortable than public security cameras, because at the very least I feel like I get some herd protection from being in a crowd. Even if that's an incorrect perception, it makes the public surveillance easier to ignore.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
3/24/2015 | 7:51:27 AM
Re: Not ready for primetime
Price aside since every first generation of a technology tends to get everyone riled up over its price, Google glass was a great introduction to augmented reality for many people.  Sure we have seen it in movies and on TV but it wasn't anywhere near usable in real life yet.  Glass came along and now we have HoloLens and MagicLeap who watched Google take a chance with Glass and then took things up a notch.  Even if Glass never comes back as a consumer product it did a great service to the wearable and augmented reality markets.  I'd call that a success even if it doesn't look that way on the balance sheets. 
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