How Google Glass is reinventing itself the second time around

Google Glass gets a second chance at being the future of wearable tech that many hoped it would be.

Adrees Latif/Reuters
Tiago Amorim of Brazil, poses with a Google Glass eyewear frame in Manhattan, New York.

Google Glass came in with a bang in 2012 and went out with a fizzle a few weeks ago, but it is making a comeback with a new team of developers and an entirely new design.

When sales of Glass through the Glass Explorer program that allowed software developers to purchase Glass for $1,500 were halted in January, some thought that it was the end of Google’s flashy and controversial contribution to the wearable technology industry.

But Google isn’t giving up. Instead it is going back to the drawing board and resetting the project – or as the statement Google released put it: Glass is “graduating” from the experimental phase and moving on to be its own team at Google.

The new Glass team is lead by Tony Fadell, a former Apple product executive, and Ivy Ross, the jewelry designer who runs Google’s smart eyewear division.

“Early Glass efforts have broken ground and allowed us to learn what’s important to consumers and enterprises alike,” Mr. Fadell said in a statement according to the New York Times. “I’m excited to be working with Ivy to provide direction and support as she leads the team and we work together to integrate those learnings into future products.”

And there is certainly a lot to be learned from Google’s first foray into smart eyewear.

Glass was first announced in 2012 at a Google developers conference during which Glass-wearing sky divers landed on the roof and raced bikes into the auditorium. It was showy, but the company wanted to create hype for its product - which would have been a successful strategy if the product had been more complete.

“The team within Google X knew the product wasn’t even close to ready for prime time,” a former Google employee told The New York Times.

Glass designers were nowhere near done creating the product and had to finish the remainder of the design in the public eye. While this gave them the chance to get feedback from users, it also gave critics time to be very vocal about Glass’s many bugs and imperfections.  

This time around, Google will be taking product development more seriously, although Glass will not likely hit the shelves any time soon.

“There will be no public experimentation,” an adviser to Fadell told The New York Times. “Tony is a product guy and he’s not going to release something until it’s perfect.”

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