While the Google Glass Explorer program is set to cease sales of single units of its wearable head gear on Jan. 16, enterprises will still be able to bulk order up to a thousand units of Glass through Glass at Work, according to a partner with the program.
In an announcement made yesterday, Google said it was closing down it’s Google Glass Explorer’s program. The head gear, which layers digital information on top of the real world by placing a transparent screen in the upper right-hand corner of the user’s vision, kicked off its Explorer program as an open beta to test out the new technology form factor. But now Glass is graduating from the lab at Google[x] to its own group within the search giant’s corporate structure.
Here’s the full post explaining the transition on the Google Glass Google+ Page:
While some media are declaring the transition for Glass as a capitulation of the consumer space on the part of Google, it’s just the first step of taking the technology into an area that it can really shine, according to CEO of APX Labs Brian Ballard.
“They called it the Explorer Program because they were trying to figure out how people would use the technology,a nd I think they have their answer,” he says. “In the enterprise, the use case is very clear.”
APX Labs is a software developer for smart glasses and a parter of Google at Work, an initiative that continues to operate as Glass moves into its own organization structure under Nest founder Tony Fadell.
For Ballard, the transition is all good news as it will mean APX Labs and other partners receive more dedicated support as Glass graduates into a full business unit.
Google also sent an email to its explorers marking the end of the program. “The Explorer Program was started to get Glass into the hands of early pioneers who would forge the way,” it states. “Thank you for being part of the story. We’ll see you in the next chapter.”
For Toronto-based Google Glass Explorer Tom Emrich, also the founder of We Are Wearables, the only mistake Google made was in changing the name of its beta test program.
“It was originally called Project Glass and I think the biggest mistake they made was removing the word ‘project.’ I think that set everyone up for expecting a consumer device,” he says. “There was a media assumption that a consumer product would be launched.”
Emrich points to another Google at Work parter, Augmedix, which announced raising a $16 million Series A fundraising round Jan. 12. The medical records solution that would give doctors access to patient files via Glass is just one example of how the wearable technology is catching on in the medical industry.
Consumer success for Glass also isn’t out of the question, Emrich adds. He suggests a version of Glass with travel companion software, such as instant translation of foreign language signs and even speech. If the price were brought down from the $1,500 USD needed for the Explorer program, then the technology might be suitable for explorers of a different type.
But Ballard is keen on where Google is headed now. APX Labs and other Glass partners will be working closely with the search giant as the business unit ramps up, he says.
“Google is going to show more of their cards in the near future,” he says. “Right now we’re getting way more access to Google than we did when it was a secretive project.”