It's way too late to bring back Google Glass

Meet Google Glass
Meet Google Glass (Image credit: Android Central)

I was a Day One Google Glass user. In fact, my thoughts on Google Glass were the first thing I ever published here at Android Central. I complain every now and again about how the tech got a bad rap and Google shouldn't have backed down on a consumer model, but today there's a lot more to talk about. Today we have faster, more efficient tech and a growing eagerness to do more with things like Augmented Reality.

Basically, what I'm saying is, I want Google Glass back.

Admit it, there was nothing wrong with Glass

Google Glass

Google Glass isn't on shelves at Best Buy today because it's ridiculously easy to scare people. The narrative painting Glass as this master creepshot spy gadget for the 1% was crafted by the same tech bloggers who willingly stood in line for hours to get their hands on Snapchat Spectacles that never get used anymore because the tech basically never worked right. It's embarrassing to look back at how many people were able to paint Glass as this evil, ugly thing that you could only buy if you were special. Nevermind that Glass was never an actual consumer product and was clearly labeled as such, or that actual spy cameras cost a fraction of what Glass cost at the time; it was evil because people said so.

Imagine Google Glass 3.0 with the sensor from a Google Pixel.

Take a look at the other head-mounted displays that are available now, and none of them come close to how functional Glass is in its unfinished form. Glass was the first real Augmented Reality gadget for me, in that it actually augmented my reality. I didn't have to look away from the road to see the next set of instructions on my GPS. I wasn't pulling my phone out every 20 seconds to check my notifications. I never worried about grabbing the perfect shot when my kids were doing something cool.

Glass was clearly the start of something amazing, and instead of more advancements with processors and cameras to streamline the design and make the headset more capable, we got Android Wear watches and third-party head-mounted displays and hideous sunglasses that only take photos and videos you can enjoy on Snapchat. Yay.

I imagine Google Glass 3.0 with the sensor from a Google Pixel, a new, smaller, and more efficient processor, and wireless charging. Maybe a more advanced display with some additional information, but not much. Honestly, having spent lots of time with Hololens and other "full" glasses, I find myself preferring the single-eye display. Human beings don't always react well to asymmetrical designs, but from a functional perspective it worked well.

ARCore would be next-level on Glass

You know what I have absolutely no desire to do when immersing myself in AR? Hold my phone up for 20 minutes and feel like I'm staring through a window into another world. Immerse me! Make me feel like I'm actually standing among the virtual creations playing out in this other world. Google's ARCore is all about giving Tango-like Augmented Reality to everyone, and that seems so perfect for a Glass-like headset. No holding a phone up; just walk around the world and tap the touch-pad on the side of your headset to place a virtual object. Leave my hands free for something like motion controllers, so I can continue to interact with the AR world.

The display on Glass as we know it wouldn't have been super great for ARCore because the resolution was fairly low, but if that could be improved it would create a wildly unique experience. I could get turn-by-turn directions to the can of soup I'm looking for while walking around in a grocery store. Pokémon Go could be running in the background so an Onyx could spawn and tower over me as I walk down the street. It's so easy to imagine the possibilities by combining what I can already do with Glass with what I can already do with ARCore. How is this not a perfect match of awesome tech?

It's probably not going to happen

Unfortunately, Google doesn't seem focused on Glass for consumers right now. ARCore was designed to make AR accessible and to compete with the buzz Apple created earlier this year. The Virtual Positioning System Google is currently working on seems limited to the standalone Daydream headset for now and not something more AR focused.

It'll probably be another two years before the things we're seeing on phones are moved back to head-mounted displays, and in some ways that's probably for the best. It's easy for someone like me to get overly hyped about something like Glass, but making a headset that lasts someone a full day of constant AR use isn't currently possible. That's the next big step, making it so AR is just sort of everywhere all the time so you can always interact with it. The limits in battery tech alone would make that impossible right now.

But if Google were to re-release Glass with ARCore onboard, I'd be first in line without a moment's hesitation.

Russell Holly

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter