Photo credit: Google
Update: Google tells TechCrunch it remains committed to augmented reality, stating, “We’ve been building AR into many Google products for years, and we’ll continue to look for ways to bring new, innovative AR experiences to our product portfolio.” . ”
I know at least one TC employee who is disappointed by Google Glass’s inevitable second death. I won’t name them, but I will say that I sympathize when I see a tech giant reverse the truck to once again drive over a beloved piece of technology. Can you be twice ahead of your time? Or at some point do you have to admit that yours is an alternate timeline?
Here’s what we know for sure: the world still wasn’t ready for Glass, even after a product overhaul and a shift in focus. Google confirmed plans to once again end support for its misunderstood AR technology, writing:
Thank you for over a decade of innovation and partnership. As of March 15, 2023, we will no longer sell the Glass Enterprise Edition. We will continue to support Glass Enterprise Edition until September 15, 2023.
Not a completely interrupted decade, of course. Glass celebrated its 10th anniversary last month. The original developer version of the head-worn display launched in February 2013, launched the Glass Explorers program two months later, and finally opened things up to the public in May 2014. parodies followed. Less than a year later, it was announced that former Apple designer and Nest co-founder Tony Fadell was working on a successor.
Google Glass disappeared for a while in 2015, thanking Explorers for playing along. Apparently, rumors of his death were a bit exaggerated – or at least premature. Notably, Google Glass shifted its focus to the company. Really, in that way too, the product line was ahead of its time. HoloLens started a year later from Microsoft, with the central thesis business. And these days, the likes of Meta, HTC, and Magic Leap see the category as a saving grace on the road to AR/VR/MR mainstreaming.
Makes sense. You can make a lot of money by selling these products in bulk to companies. And IT departments are often willing to spend more on products than the average consumer. A second Enterprise Edition came out in 2019 with some modest upgrades.
The timing and apparent finality of this announcement is interesting. Much of the industry is waiting to see what Apple delivers with its rumored mixed reality headset later this year. Of course, Google has been rumored to be working on a new AR product, codenamed Project Iris. According to a report early last year:
Early prototypes, being developed at a facility in the San Francisco Bay Area, resemble ski goggles and do not require a wired connection to an external power source.
The product would likely be a more direct competitor to the current generation of XR products, including Apple. Google also has a rich history of its own with VR products, including Cardboard and Daydream. The latter was discontinued in 2019, the former finally retired in 2021.