When #Google didn't deliver on the promise of releasing Google Glass as a commercial product, by the end of 2014, we saw it coming. The company has finally scrapped the project and Glass, has we know it, has been cancelled.
Now, how did this happen to the most promising wearable computer we got in this new wave of wearable technology frenzy? Let's start with this: it was not comfortable to use and did not serve a clear purpose for the typical consumer. I tested a pair of Glass in late 2013 and found it awkward. It fit nicely on my face, but I didn't want to be seen with that in any social occasion. I had to talk to the gadget or tap it with my fingers to make it do stuff, which also didn't help the cause of wearing this piece of technology around.
The design was geeky and after playing with it for a while, taking photos and shooting videos, I was done. I couldn't foresee an excuse to pay $1,500 for the Explorer Edition that Google ran for the past three years. I would certainly use it in my job as a journalist on a news conference, for instance, but I couldn't imagine wearing it on an interview.
This is part of what killed Google Glass: privacy. Its ability to record and photograph creeped everyone out, and brought about every type of preemptive prohibitions, banning its use on a number of situations. There were also technical concerns, as the battery life was very short and the processor caused the gadget to overheat while seating on one's face. There was an enthusiastic community of developers interested in creating apps for Glass, but as these issues amounted, they lost interest. Simply put, Google Glass wasn't ready for prime time and it was a mistake to release it so early on.
The reasons why Google co-founder Sergey Brin decided to reveal the product before it was ready are part of a broader story, involving love affairs, secret labs, and technology rock-star aspirations - all well explained on a New York Times article, published earlier this month. Brin thought the product had so many different and exciting applications that he just wanted people to try it out and come up with ideas to perfect the gadget.
It was a mistake. Glass became a joke for many, a bad investment for others and a lesson for Google. The company cancelled the project and will take it back to the lab, in order to redesign it from scratch. Not all the celebrities in the world wearing stylish versions of Glass (hello, Angelina Jolie) could have saved this product as it was. Not for the mass market, anyway. But if we look at its uses in other fields, like medical and research, the story has been different. Glass is being used as a very interesting tool for surgeons and researchers, and as of this week, it is being trialled at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport (for information purposes now, but I can see security uses in the future).
As Glass is dead, will Google be able to come up with a new version that addresses privacy concerns and appeals to the masses? Meanwhile, Microsoft will take advantage of the Glass drama and release their own HoloLens this Fall. Those Terminator kind of shades? It's getting real. #Society