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Google Glass: The explorer is lost, maybe forever

Time to reboot
Google Glass: The explorer is lost, maybe forever

One of the most talked about advancements in wearable technology has been pulled from sale today.

This is the last opportunity to buy the Google Glass Explorer edition before the internet giant officially mothballs its augmented reality hardware experiment.

It follows something of a cryptic announcement from Google about the future of its high-tech eyewear.

There's a distinctly saccharine PR spin on the blog post announcing that, for the time being, Google Glass will be no more, before suggesting that it will one day return in a new form.

Broken Glass

Previously Google hasn't been too shy about closing down projects, like Wave, that just didn't catch the public's attention as hoped. Yet with Glass it's offered a veiled explanation of the device's public removal that's laced with platitudes and political promises.

"Glass was in its infancy, and you took those very first steps and taught us how to walk," Google tells its early adopters, who've become known, perhaps harshly, as Glassholes.

"Well, we still have some work to do, but now we’re ready to put on our big kid shoes and learn how to run."

These first running steps begin with pulling the $1,500 Google Glass device from sale, which doesn't immediately sound like a step forward.

The project is being removed - or 'graduating', according to the statement, which even included the quotes around the word - from the renowned Google X research department.

You’ll start to see future versions of Glass when they’re ready.

"As part of this transition, we’re closing the Explorer Program so we can focus on what’s coming next," says Google. "In the meantime, we’re continuing to build for the future, and you’ll start to see future versions of Glass when they’re ready."

It goes on to say that Glass is getting its own team, headed by Nest's Tony Fadell, which is the glimmer of hope that it's not gone forever.

Looking into the future

But it seems evident that Google has no immediate plans to forge ahead with the Glass project. Despite some positive reviews by the tech-savvy community, the device has been plagued by controversy and confusion.

Google Glass has become a prime example of technology that was invented without a strong understanding of what people would actually use it for, which resulted in concerns over privacy, costs and lack of thirdparty support.

And yet, enthusiasm over virtual, augmented and blended reality has never been higher, and the few early adopters that picked up the Glass Explorer have apparently been pleased with its operation and features.

The enterprise sector has also been a strong advocate of Google Glass, though seemingly that's not the market Google wants to please.

Perhaps Google Glass's real problem is that it's overshadowed by the likes of Oculus Rift.

While it had its own very distinct problems, such as an hour's battery life, heavy price tag, unclear use case, unappealing design, and nausea and headache inducing operation, perhaps Google Glass's real problem right now is that it's overshadowed by the likes of Oculus Rift.

Although very different products in concept, to the consumers' eye these two devices are battling in the same space, and the Rift has the advantage of knowing exactly what it's made for.

Which leads us to wonder if Google's simply choosing its battlefields.

Going up against VR in 2015 is a fight that Glass simply can't win, so putting the concept aside for a year or two, and returning with a fresh pair of eyes on the entire purpose might be the way to ensure work on the project hasn't been wasted.

But for the foreseeable future, you can wave goodbye to Google Glass, outside of any unsupported hacker projects that the Glasshole community attempts on its own.

But, of course, in the meantime, that won't stop myriad of other companies trying to fill the gap.