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The History and Future of Google Glass

The Explorer program, in which a special few paid $1,500 and wrote an essay in order to test Google Glass, was seen as elitist and drew too much attention, insiders say.

| BY Kent McDill

In January of 2015, Google announced that it was putting its Google Glass project on hiatus.

In March, Google announced that Google Glass was not dead.

The controversial “smart’’ glasses had a controversial unveiling in 2013, suffered a blowback from the public, and had low sales before Google stopped consumer sales in January. Now the eyewear with a computer attached is being reconsidered by the company for future sales.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told the Wall Street Journal this week that Google is preparing Google Glass to “make it ready for users”. In the meantime, Google Glass remains available and is marketed to business professionals, including medical personnel, who find it effective in searching for medical charts.

From the beginning, Google Glass suffered a problem with reputation.

The eyewear that allows users to take photos and video, connect to the Internet and receive reminders, was seen as intrusive to the public and a symbol of class disconnect. Numerous bars and restaurants and other retailers banned the devices as an invasion of privacy.

Furthermore, Google Glass wearers became targets for their perceived bad behavior, falling to make eye contact with others in conversation because they were “watching’’ their computer screen. The term “glass-holes’’ came to describe Google Glass users as a result.

In immediate response to the behavior problem, Google actually issued a Google Glass user etiquette guide.

When Google Glass was first offered to the public, it was done through a program the company called Explorer, in which a select number of consumers who filled out an application (that included an essay) and paid $1,500 were given the opportunity to try the innovative product. This program was immediately deemed “elitist” and the blowback against the product began.

Sales to the public began in April 2014 but were weak. Acceptance of the device among the public remained slim.

A study of Google Glass by Forester Research showed that the public considered Google Glass to be an invasive piece of computer hardware. The research showed that half of adults felt that Google Glass caused privacy concerns.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Illinois Institute of Technology historian Marie Hicks pointed out the perception problem that Google Glass had.

“One of the biggest problems with Glass was the class warfare aspect of it,’’ she said. “The way Google rolled it out heightened it. All of the sudden, the tech elite had this new tool of surveillance to use on everyone else.”

At the recent South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, Google X lead Astro Teller said the Explorer program got too much attention, putting pressure on the product before it was ready for national attention.

“We made one really great decision, and one not so great,’’ Teller said. “The great decision was to do the Explorer program. The thing that we did not do so well is that we allowed, and sometimes encouraged, too much attention the program.”



About the Author


Kent McDill

kmcdill@spectrem.com

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.