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Where Has Google Glass Gone?

By Hector Cisneros

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Anything that Google touches has significance. Even if it's just because they can spend an ungodly amount of money on anything in which they have an interest. It's not only that - Google has a very futuristic view of things. When they purchased YouTube for an unheard of amount of money - a lot of people said they were crazy. Boy, were they wrong. In 2012, Google announced the creation of Google Glass, a prototype wearable computer that was worn as a pair of glasses. They then released a limited edition of the actual product in 2013 and called it “the Glass Explorer” for the tidy sum of $1,500. Most Google products get a lot of attention and this one gave birth to a whole line of copycats and controversy as it launched us into a new era of personal computing. In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will explore Google Glass, how it started, where it has taken us over the last three years and where we predict it will go from here. So read on and hold on to your glasses as we tackle Google Glass and the new industry it has spawned.

Like many Google launches, Google Glass caused an uproar both positive and negative. The primary reason many disliked the technology when it was introduced was because it had a built-in video camera that could be activated without being noticed. This wearable technology even gave us new phrases like "glasshole" for people who recorded you on video without your permission and expanded the definition of what wearable computing could be. It even made us aware of cloud computing since most of the information accessed and stored using this device was stored in the cloud.

Google Glass from the Past

We have written about Google Glass in the past. In our first article called “Are Google Glasses the
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Great Game Changer or a Passing Fad?”
, we talked about all the controversy surrounding the use of the product when wearing Glass out for a walk. Many institutions such as theaters were calling for a ban of the product since it made pirating motion pictures while you watched a breeze. We also talked about the high entry level price ($1,500) for a limited edition early model which in essence was a prototype. In other articles like “A Borg in Every Boardroom - Cyber Augmentation for All”,
we discussed offshoots of this technology and how they affect our lives. Things like Google’s foray into Google Contact lenses is covered in the article “Ready to Ware”, These contacts can measure glucose levels in your tears as well as improve visual acuity for those who need readers. In another article, we discussed how we are now coming close to being able to create a function Geordi LaForge, (of Star Trek fame) pair of glasses that allows a blind person to see (read the article called “The Basics of Biohacking”). If you would like a detailed history of Google Glass, you can always check it out on Wikipedia, as it contains a lot of history and useful information as well.
What is Google Glass doing today?

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Today Glass-like eyewear is much more widespread and contrary to the beliefs of many, Glass Explorer did not go away. In 2014, Google signed agreements with many eyewear manufacturers to take the Glass Explorer to new levels. In a New York Times article entitled “Biggest Eyewear Company Signs On With Google Glass”, Google and Luxottica announced a multi- year agreement to distribute frames for Google Glass. Since that time, Google has announced that they are scrapping the old Google Glass project for a new one. Google, now called Alphabet, has renamed the project “Aura” and announced a launch date for some time in 2016.

Rumors abound and until we see the product on the shelves, we have to go on what’s been reported in the news. As far as I can tell, this new version is designed more for work than play and will include many upgrades. An article in appcessories from the UK called “Google Glass 2 Release Date, Price News and Rumors” say that the new model will include; No more creepy invasive audio signals, more power, improved prism, better camera, speedier Wi-Fi, a sports edition and more. In another article by “TechRadar” called “Google Glass 2: everything you need to know”, they report that the new Glass 2 may not even be a pair of glasses. The article states that it may be an “Adjustable Display Mounting”, will use an Intel processor, will have a hinged design, making it foldable and improving water resistance.

Where is Google Glass headed?

From all the speculation and evidence I have seen, Google Glass, Aura or whatever it ends up being called, is going to be geared more for business than personal use. Right now the cost, which is speculated to be around $1,000, will relegate it to those individuals who have money to burn or can show a strong ROI for its usage. It looks like Google is targeting military, law enforcement, the medical industry and engineering entities to start with.

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What other products has Google Glass inspired?

Contrary to popular opinion, when Google Glass was announced back in 2012, it was not the first product of its kind. In fact, we found that there were people who created DIY prototypes of this tech well before Google Glass. However, having said that, few companies have inspired more development of the coolest things than Google. The sale of Google Glass inspired many startups to jump onto Kickstarter and other Crowdfunding sites to raise money to take advantage of this new emerging technology. It also inspired some large corporations to jump on the bandwagon as well.

Companies like Sony, Epson, and Zeiss have all jumped into the fray. Much lesser known startups like Vuzix, Alto Tech and LAFORGE have also jumped on this tech trend and have come up with some very competitive products that can give the current version of Google Glass a run for its money. In an article by “WAREABLE” called “The best smartglasses 2016: Sony Vuzix and more”, you will get a good rundown of some of the biggest contenders for the best smartglasses tech. Another article that
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lists a different set of players, was an article I read from “readwrite” called “Five Face-Saving Alternative to Google Glass”.  Many of the designs tend to follow in Google’s footstep in that they create a wraparound wearable computing device that doesn’t look like glasses! Others have created bulky frame glasses or clip-on devices that strap to your current glasses. Many of these new devices tie into your smartphone or smartwatch for computing power or control, making them in some instances smaller and less intrusive. Some of the inexpensive smartglasses I have seen just have either a camera, an mp3 player or both, built in. These devices can be had on eBay for under $20.00. In fact, a quick search on eBay will bring up about a 1000 listings for smartglasses!

Some Stand Out Products to Look at

Of the many smartglasses I researched, a few really stand out for me. One of these is Zeiss Smart Lenses, they look like glasses. An article in “Wired” called “Zeiss Smart Lenses Get Right What Google Glass Got Wrong” says it most eloquently - This isn’t Google Glass. This isn’t Hololens. This is a pair of ordinary glasses—they’ll even work with a prescription—with extraordinary tech hidden nearly invisibly inside. And that may be the smartest thing about them.”

Another standout product that I felt was exceptional, was from the startup company LAFORGE. Their home page provides a vivid example of their product and how it looks like regular glasses. These glasses can be prescription eyewear and can display notifications from your smartphone in the glasses field of vision. They say that their product is “Augmented Reality eyewear with a normal look”.

The last product I felt was worth highlighting was “Cool Glass”. This is very much a Google Glass look-a-like (if not a knockoff). It retails for around $500 and is about as close as you can get to the original Google Glass explorer in look and feel.  In an article by “PC World” called “Meet Alto Tech’s Cool Glass; a vastly cheaper alternative to Google Glass”, it states that “Sure, it looks almost identical. The name’s nearly the same. But Alto Tech representatives said that it developed a custom fork of Android to power it, and that the applications it developed were proprietary. (There’s an SDK for developers to tap into, too.)
But I’ve used Glass, and unless my memory deceives me, Cool Glass offers nearly the same experience at a fraction of the price: $500, specifically, versus the $1,500 Google originally charged for Google Glass. Unfortunately, Cool Glass is being sold into the Chinese market—although company representatives said they hoped to bring the device to the U.S. this April.”  One of the neat features of this product is that it can clip onto your existing glasses, even sunglasses. I think this product will sell well in the U.S., if it’s not 
already on eBay!

The Future - My Predictions

Right now the idea of a Google Glass evolution from Alphabet that is built for the masses is still a pipedream. I do see an immediate use for law enforcement and the military. That doesn’t mean that the well to do won’t be buying and using these devices. They will! However, the masses will be snapping up the Google Glass look-a-likes and knockoffs or buying the other alternative that provide lesser versions of augmented reality. The real reason that I believe we will be slow to adopt this technology will be the lingering question of invasion of privacy. For many this is a product that can record everything that’s going on around you, since a lot of people hate being photographed or videoed. Heck, there are cameras everywhere right now! Most of the world’s population carries smartphones already! Do we need cameras attached to our faces to record everything in our daily lives?

Invasion of privacy, or the next level of cybernetic enhancements, that’s the big question people will have to answer. Are we willing to accept smartglasses as visual sensory augmentations in our everyday lives? Or, will new laws be implemented to relegate these devices to the police, the military and business usage?  We will just have to put on our glasses and wait and see!

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In this article, I have discussed how the launch of Google Glass technology has propelled us down a winding road that is now filled with many players. This article provides a brief history of Google Glass, updates on the release of Google Glass 2 (aka Aura) and a comparison of the many Google Glass alternatives including some that look just like regular glasses. It further discusses the remaining issue of invasion of privacy that has hindered the adoption of the original Glass Explorer as well.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091. We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. If you found this article useful, please share it with friends, family, and co-workers. You can find articles on this and other subjects by typing in “Google Glass” or your desired search term in the search box at the top of this blog. I recommend reading “Are Google Glasses the Great Game Changer or a Passing Fad?”“Ready to Ware”,  and “The Basics of Biohacking” for starters. Also, don’t forget to plus us, on Google+.
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Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

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