Technology

Google ends enterprise sales of Google Glass, its augmented reality smartglasses

Alphabet’s Glass being used in manufacturing
Alphabet

Google has stopped selling its Glass Enterprise smart glasses, the company announced on Wednesday on its website. Google will also stop supporting its software in September, the company said.

The move is the end of the line for one of the first — and still one of the most recognized — smart glasses product lines from a big tech company.

Glass Enterprise was the successor to Google Glass, a lightweight glasses product that displayed tiny bits of information on a transparent screen in the user’s field of view.

Glass was first sold to developers and early adopters in 2013 for $1,500 and quickly captured the imagination of tech enthusiasts. But despite backing from Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the Glass project at Google never caught on as a mainstream product. The built-in camera led to fights over privacy, and the product became the butt of jokes on late-night television.

By 2017, Google was positioning the product as a tool for enterprises to perform applications like streaming healthcare appointments or training workers on a factory floor.

Google most recently released a new $999 version of the hardware in 2019.

Google’s retreat comes as rivals, including Meta and Apple, are investing in augmented reality and virtual reality technology which could end up in devices that are much more sophisticated Google Glass.

Meta has released Ray-Ban smartglasses with cameras but no display and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has spoken publicly about a Google Glass-like final form for the product line.

Apple is reportedly preparing a virtual reality headset that can use video from outwards-facing cameras to display the outside world, like a transparent lens.

Microsoft has its own augmented reality glasses for businesses, HoloLens, but the company reportedly laid off portions of the team working on it earlier this year, and the device’s creator, Alex Kipman, left the company in 2022.

The discontinuation of Glass does not mean that Google has given up on augmented reality or smartglasses, though. Last summer, Google previewed a different pair of smartglasses that could translate and transcribe speech in real-time, and said it would continue to test augmented reality glasses prototypes in public.

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