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Where Google went wrong with Glass

Where Google went wrong with Glass | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Google botched its wearable, Google Glass, and now the director of GoogleX labs is openly talking about it.

Astro Teller, Google’s director of its research arm, GoogleX, was speaking to an audience at the South by Southwest conference in Austin on Tuesday when he said the company made mistakes with Glass.

Google, according to Teller, needs to work out its wearable’s battery and privacy issues, and address miscommunications about the state of the project.

Google Glass, even when it was being sold to early testers for $1,500, was never close to being ready for official sale. It’s a prototype and still solidly in the experimental phase.

The company, however, did not make that clear, especially when its executives and its PR people were repeatedly putting timeframes on an official Glass release.

Looking back at the Glass Explorer program, Teller said Google did one good thing it launched the project but it also did one thing wrong.

“The bad decision was that we allowed and sometimes even encouraged too much attention for the program,” he said. “Instead of people seeing the Explorer devices as learning devices, Glass began to be talked about as if it were a fully baked consumer product. The device was being judged and evaluated in a very different context than we intended.”

That tactic frustrated a lot of early adopters.

“While we were hoping to learn more about how to make it better, people just wanted the product to be better straight away , and that led to some understandably disappointed Explorers,” Teller said.

While thousands of people bought Glass to become early adopters, or Explorers , the application ecosystem for the product didn’t grow and the project became the target of jokes and waning interest.

“It sounded reasonable to them to have an alpha testing program where, rather than paying the folks testing the product and keeping it secret, they got the testers to pay for the privilege in a kind of a Tom Sawyer scheme, and made the test public,” said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. “Now the product has to dig itself out of a hole that wouldn’t have existed had they done the testing using traditional methods.”

A public experiment

Teller said the Explorer program, which ended in January, was invaluable.

“I can say that having experimented out in the open was painful at points, but it was still the right thing to do,” he said. “We never would have learned all that we’ve learned without the Explorer program, and we needed that to inform the future of Glass and wearables in general.”

According to Teller, Google learned that it has to work out problems with the wearable’s battery and with the privacy issues surrounding computerized eyeglasses that can take photos and short videos.

After the company stopped selling the prototypes early this year, speculation swirled that Google was giving up on the project altogether. Google said that’s not the case, and that Glass was pulled out of the spotlight to be retooled. The device also was moved from under the research umbrella of GoogleX and placed with its own team, much like the teams working on search and Android.

“Google did screw up,” said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. “The way they talked about it led people to believe it was a finished off, polished product, which it’s not. So by hyping it so much, they set expectations they could not meet.”

Google had the hype ramped up way before it was time, said Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst.

“Google had the sizzle, they just didn’t have the steak,” Kagan said. “This is a perfect example of a company believing their own PR and not paying any attention to the realities that make something hot... This is a very painful and embarrassing lesson for Google to learn. It’s amazing that they haven’t learned it yet.”

Kagan said he can’t see Glass becoming a product anytime soon, but Kerravala said the device still has a good shot.

“Oh, sure they can recover,” Kerravala said. “They’ll have to take a step back but... there’s an expression that if you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.”



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Richard Platt's curator insight, March 21, 2015 4:29 PM
Astro Teller, Google’s director of its research arm, GoogleX, said the company made mistakes with Glass. They needed to work out its wearable’s battery and privacy issues, and address miscommunications about the state of the project.. Even when it was being sold to early testers for $1,500, was never close to being ready for official sale. It’s a prototype and still solidly in the experimental phase. Even though its executives and its PR people were repeatedly putting timeframes on an official Glass release.Teller said Google did one good thing it launched the project but it also did one thing wrong. - “The bad decision was that we allowed and sometimes even encouraged too much attention for the program,” he said. “Instead of people seeing the Explorer devices as learning devices, Glass began to be talked about as if it were a fully baked consumer product. The device was being judged and evaluated in a very different context than we intended.” - That tactic frustrated a lot of early adopters
Tom Bryon's curator insight, March 25, 2015 3:35 AM

"Google had the sizzle, they just didn't have the steak".

Technology will surely experience some form of metamorphosis, Google is pushing another form of wearable technology, possibly we could see this as the mainstream form of communication. It hasn't picked up the momentum it needs yet, but as its usability increases and new needs arise, that may change.

"The device still has a good shot. If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.”

QindredCam's curator insight, April 1, 2015 3:25 PM

Privacy and battery life; these are two of the key challenges for wearable recording devices.

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A 3D Model of Microsoft's HoloLens Is the Closest You Can Get For Now

A 3D Model of Microsoft's HoloLens Is the Closest You Can Get For Now | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

As we all stop caring about 3D TVs, smartwatches, and other recent tech fads, the attention now turns to head-worn interactive displays. And if you think Microsoft's new HoloLens has what it takes to challenge the Oculus Rift, here's your chance to look over the hardware—at least a 3D interactive model of it—courtesy of the folks at Sketchfab.

You can't actually try it on to see what all the fuss is about, but the 3D model includes a bunch of interactive annotations so you can check out all the technology that Microsoft has packed into the HoloLens, including Kinect-like sensors and video cameras so others can see what you're looking at too. If you're desperate to get your hands on one after pawning your Google Glass, this should at least help tide you over until Microsoft finally makes them available to the public. Or to convince you that maybe you don't want this on your head.

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2015 Isn't Looking Good For Google Glass

2015 Isn't Looking Good For Google Glass | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

2014 wasn't kind to Google Glass.

The expensive wearable tech has failed to catch on with the masses.

Next year may not be any better for Google Glass, reports CNBC.

Before it becomes a consumer hit, Glass will need support from the developer community.

Google told CNBC that Glass has 100 apps now. By comparison, the iTunes App Store had 1.2 million apps as of last June.

But some companies don't seem to think making apps for Glass is worth their effort.

Twitter stopped making its app for Google Glass in October.

And Twitter isn't the only developer to give up on Glass.

9 of 16 app developers contacted by Reuters said they have given up on making apps for Glass because no one was buying it.

Designers like Dianne von Furstenberg have tried framing Glass as a fashion item, like the Apple Watch, but it's hard to fathom spending $1,500 on something that's still a prototype.

Google Glass regularly sells for less than half of that price on eBay.

Developers have also complained about Google Glass' poor battery life.

Until that problem is fixed, and developers start thinking about Glass as a gadget for the masses, it will remain a niche product for Google fans.

It doesn't seem like Glass will be a retail hit anytime soon. Google shuttered its only brick and mortar stores for the wearable in November.

In July, Glass creator Babak Parviz left Google to work at Amazon. That's not exactly a vote of confidence, either.


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Intel teams with Luxottica to make smart eyewear fashionable

Intel teams with Luxottica to make smart eyewear fashionable | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

In case it wasn't already clear that Intel believes wearable tech should be stylish, the company has just forged a multi-year partnership with the glasses gurus at the Luxottica Group. The two will collaborate on smart eyewear that you'd actually like to put on your face; it's not happy with the current, overly utilitarian (read: ugly) approach to heads-up displays. They aren't talking specifics, but the aim is to make "premium, luxury and sports" glasses with a dash of intelligence. You won't have to wait long to see the first fruits of this relationship, at least, since the duo expects a product in 2015. Between this and talk of Intel-powered Google Glass, it's clear that the chip maker wants a prominent spot on your cranium -- it's determined to take wearables seriously and avoid missing the boat, like it did with smartphones.



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Add-on lens could boost workplace apps for Google Glass

Add-on lens could boost workplace apps for Google Glass | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Google Glass may have been pulled from the consumer marketplace, but one team of researchers is still trying to improve it for workplace applications.

Jibo He and Barbara Chaparro of Wichita State University in Kansas have developed an optical lens that dramatically expands the field of view for the camera on Glass.

The attachment, called Google Lens, can boost the camera view from 54.8 degrees horizontally and 42.5 degrees vertically to 109.8 degrees and 57.8 degrees, respectively, according to the researchers.

“The current Google Glass has a limited field of view, which reduces its applications in professional settings,” He said via email.

Google Lens is a simple optical attachment that clips onto the arm of Glass over the camera. It can be fitted with interchangeable lenses including wide-angle lenses.

Apps such as Livestream can turn Glass into a live broadcasting device from a user’s point of view. He and collaborators developed their own app called uSee that’s designed for mobile usability research and two-way communication. It allows remote observers to send text messages that display on the Glass monitor or a linked smartwatch. Users, meanwhile, can tap on the Glass touchpad to mark important events.

By bringing more into the view of the Glass camera, Google Lens could also open up possibilities for workplace applications, according to He. Medical trainees, for instance, could see more when watching the perspective of an instructor via the wearable, and student pilots could look through Glass for an instructor’s view of the cockpit.

Better applications could mean a lot for Glass, which saw the closure of its consumer-oriented Explorer program last month when the device “graduated” from the Google X lab. But the search giant has continued to promote its Glass at Work program, noting that startup Augmedix recently raised US$16 million to make Glass a time-saving device for doctors through an automated note-taking app.

Other medical possibilities for Glass include a trial at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston that involves using the device to provide mothers with a view of babies being treated in the newborn intensive care unit.


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Even the Guy Who Designed the iPod Might Not Be Able to Save Google Glass

Even the Guy Who Designed the iPod Might Not Be Able to Save Google Glass | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Google Glass hasn’t changed the world. Not even close. Briefly hailed as the wearable heir to the smartphone, Glass has mainly become an object of derision, confusion, and indifference. Google never really succeeded in making a convincing case for why we’d all want to wear our phones on our faces.

The iPod, on the other hand, was a device that radically changed the trajectory of personal tech. The conceptual parent of the iPhone, the iPod upended the recording industry, revitalized Apple, and ushered in the online, on-demand era of music, movies, books, and TV. And the guy who designed the iPod? He now works for Google.

Tony Fadell joined the company when Google paid more than $3 billion for Nest, the smart-home startup he co-founded. At the time of the acquisition almost exactly one year ago, we made much of how Nest’s connected thermostats and smoke alarms would give Google entree to the oceans of data these smart devices will generate as they become commonplace in people’s homes. But buying Nest also brought Google something else: a guy with a proven record of designing hardware that is radically new but also widely embraced by consumers.

In that light, Google’s decision today to give Fadell oversight of Google Glass makes a lot of sense. If any gadget needs a guiding hand to transform it from geek fetish to viable product, it’s Glass. But the challenge is steep, even for Fadell. The problem is that Glass’ failure doesn’t ultimately stem from people perceiving it as uncool; it’s that Glass isn’t perceived as all that useful. Google had hoped Glass’ early users would help find the functions for its form; now Fadell will have to push reset on that unsuccessful effort. Instead of asking users what Glass is for, Fadell must find a way to tell them.

No Clear Advantage

From the time of its first limited release in 2013, critics have railed against Glass as a privacy invader and a anti-social intrusion on everyday face-to-face contact. But the outrage drew attention away from the more mundane question of what the real point was of having access to the basic functions of your smartphone through a tiny display permanently hovering just above your eye. To make sense as a general purpose consumer device, a gadget needs to have a clear advantage over those that preceded it. Glass’ advantage compared to pulling out your phone was never clear, and Google never effectively articulated it. Instead, Google seemed to hope that by offering Glass to a select number of early adopters and techies through its Glass Explorer program, which is now ending, the device’s first users would do the work of figuring out what it was for.

That didn’t happen, at least not in a way that made those advantages obvious to the general public. Over the past two years, we’ve learned that consumers are not clamoring for heads-up displays; what they really want are the same old smartphones, except with ginormous screens. As innovative as Glass may seem in its newness, newness alone does not entail innovation if the equation does not also include usefulness.

Glass came into the world as a gadget looking for a reason to be, and that reason hasn’t been found.

A caveat: connected headsets like Glass are here to stay in specific, mostly work-related contexts. Certain specialized occupations such as surgeon, construction worker, or jet-engine mechanic will benefit greatly from access to a constant stream of information that the person on the receiving end can consume while keeping both hands free. The future of wearable devices isn’t about a single device that does everything. It’s about lots of different devices that each do one thing really well.

And in a future like that, what place does Glass really have? That’s what Tony Fadell will have to figure out. Perhaps resetting Glass means re-presenting it to consumers as a device for work. And since consumers rather than IT departments are now driving the tech that gets used in the workplace, a reimagining of Glass for enterprise could still offer a path to mass adoption.

To be sure, Google is still signaling mainstream ambitions for its beleaguered eyewear. Along with putting the device in Fadell’s hands, Google is also pushing Glass out of the experimental nest of its Google X division (Glass is “graduating,” Google says). But if Glass is really out of its infancy, as Google asserts, it’s hardly all grown up. Giving the device to Fadell is a gamble that, with his user-experience chops, he will be able to define, implement, and convey a sense of purpose through which potential consumers will finally “get” Glass. But that still leaves the question: Who is that potential consumer?

Clarity of Vision

In a recent podcast post-mortem on the Consumer Electronics Show, Andreessen Horowitz partner Benedict Evans described the Internet of Things as a kind of inversion of the typical path for new tech. Instead of a great need that innovators strive to develop new tech in order to meet, the Internet of Things consists of a wealth of devices waiting for consumers to figure out what they’re good for. Evans said that, in that context, the real value of Nest to both consumers and Google isn’t so much in its thermostat or its smoke detector as gadgets unto themselves. Instead, the value of Nest is in the company’s jumpstart on creating a user-friendly system that conveys not just the usefulness of each device individually, but that through its design communicates how that usefulness evolves as more devices connect to the system.

“The point of of Nest isn’t the thermostat,” Evans said. “It’s the route to market and the communication.”

To succeed, Fadell needs to imbue Glass with a similar clarity of vision. And if anyone seems capable of making the case for Glass, it’s the guy who managed to persuade consumers that devices as boring as the thermostat and the smoke detector could be transformed into much more useful appliances. Unlike Glass, however, the thermostat and smoke detector both have obvious, well-defined purposes that tech augments by connecting them to each other and the internet.

Glass came into the world as a gadget looking for a reason to be, and that reason hasn’t been found. Someone with Fadell’s gift might be able to find it. But he’ll have to look pretty hard. Relaunching Glass as primarily a tool for work seems like the most fruitful path to take, to find highly specific niches where Glass makes sense. But the likelihood that even Fadell can convince the world of the need for a face-mounted smartphone is slim. It’s not like Google to think small. But Fadell will have to narrow Glass’ view if he wants it to survive.


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Maciej Karpiński's curator insight, January 17, 2015 1:57 PM

Obawy przed tym, że designer iPoda nie podoła produktowi Glass.

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Sony Just Created A New Google Glass Competitor That Attaches To Your Current Glasses

Sony Just Created A New Google Glass Competitor That Attaches To Your Current Glasses | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

While startups and large companies like Google are busy developing smart glasses, Sony has just invented a device that clips on to your current eyewear to add those same features (via The Verge). 

The device itself is a module that clips on to your glasses and essentially adds a small 640 x 400 pixel display, a camera, and a processor.

Sony claims the tiny screen is capable of showing high-quality full color photos and videos, and the processor inside is about on par with what you'd get in today's smartphones. 

The benefit of this type of gadget over something like Google Glass, according to Sony, is that you can clip it on or take it off whenever you need to.

You're not committed to wearing it all the time like you would be if you wore a prescription version of Google Glass.

Here's what you would see while looking through Sony's gadget.

It looks like the experience will be very similar to that of Google Glass, but specialized for certain use cases like sports. 


Judging by Sony's renders, it looks like the gadget will be rather bulky, so chances are you won't want to wear it all the time.

It sounds like Sony plans to license out the technology to eyewear and tech companies rather than releasing it as its own consumer product, and mass production is expected to kick off within the year. 

It's a different approach that what we've seen from most companies getting into wearable tech, but it's unclear if this will actually appeal to consumers. Even Google has been having a hard time convincing everyday consumers to wear computerized glasses, it seems, as The Wall Street Journal says the next version of Glass will be geared toward hospitals and other enterprise use cases.


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