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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 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

18 Comments
  • I wish Google exhibited the same "courage" that Apple does in regards to Glass. It seemed that all they needed to do was push it out and inevitably it would have been more acceptable. As you mentioned, those ridiculous Snap glasses are garbage and used exactly what Glass was demonized for, which it wasn't even designed for. The vanity that people have that everyone around them actually cares enough about them to stalk them is fascinating and i am sure would make a great research paper. I guess vanity is essentially what has put Glass on hold for now. Sad really because I still want these, it is where everything will end up anyway. In five years we wont be talking about phones in the current sense.
  • I think you're right. I started using cell phones in the early 90's. I was self-conscious to be seen carrying it around. I usually left it in the car when I went to a store. I can hardly imagine being without it now. It was the same thing with my Bluetooth earpiece. Like nearly every other tool man has ever invented it has the potential to be used for good purposes and bad. As we get used to them, we become less self-conscious. I'm still undecided as to whether this is a good thing or not, but it happens.
  • I found this article from way back. LOL. Number two. http://www.businessinsider.com/15-ways-tech-is-reinventing-society-2013-...
  • Like drones, it just takes one or two bad apples to ruin the bunch. Once the 'creeper' narrative started, and IIRC there were a couple of questionable episodes -- the entire thing was going to come crashing down. I don't know I would feel comfortable wearing them, but they were a neat idea. I also wish Microsoft's HoloLens efforts haven't stalled.
  • Glass should be looking beyond just consumer markets. Think how many occupations could benefit from a more immersive, or hands free, experience. Glass could be a great productivity tool for some applications.
  • I'm right there with ya bud! The possibilities of Tango and AR is exciting to say the least!! I can't wait for when I can scan a room or area, and have bad guys come run at me in that room, and I have to take them out with my virtual rifle that I have in my hands. something like that would be fantastic just on a phone. Knowing what Hololens is capable of, and seeing demos of what tango is capable of, the possibilities are there, it just takes someone to do it!!! I have some great ideas!! Anyone hiring?!?!?! haha
  • Is it "too late" to being back glass? Did you mean it is "long past time"?
  • Yet analysts are saying the glasses being designed by Apple right now will outsell the iPad and iWatch. Lol
  • Are they iGlasses?
  • Probably. If Apple does come out with their own glasses version I'm sure it ll become pretty popular lol.
  • Tbh the apple watch is not a massive success apple expected it to be. Yes it's the best selling apple watch but not that many people have got one and I still don't see the market growing. I have a moto 360 and I have not seen any other watch that makes me say I want that nd because of the price of the watch when I got it I don't want to pay £300ish every 2 years for one to. They are nice tools but not for everyone I think it's the same for the glasses to.
  • Google could've fixed the entire issue with the image problem of Glass by creating a small sliding cover to cover the camera. That's it. Most of the controversy around glass centered around the camera because people didn't like the idea that they might be filmed while standing in line at your local Starbucks. Never mind that you were likely on multiple security cameras before walking in to Starbucks and then on Starbucks security cameras once inside. Never mind that the law says that you have no reasonable right to privacy in a public space, which means anyone and everyone can film anyone and everyone without risk of legal reprisal. Still, one little camera cover, just a small piece of plastic, and the entire image problem Google had with Glass would've been gone in an instant. I only played with Glass for a short time, but it was long enough to know that I would love to have an updated consumer version with better specs and battery as well as a better viewer.
  • Not saying this is you, but the argument that people think they would be recorded all the time is asinine. They are already being recorded way more than they realize. Social media has turned people into celebrities in their heads and has really driven the ego to an extreme. It is crazy to see how self-obsessed people have become in the last ten years. Maybe they always have been and now we just have proof.
  • So, you're saying a 1,000 dollar pair of Google Glass given today's pricing, isn't an elitist gimmick because?
  • It is, but so is the Note 8. Every type of new tech is elitist in some way. But in order for it to become cheaper we need it to be widely used.
  • I miss glass so much. I loved mine. So much better and more useful than these crappy Android wear watches. Glass>apple watch>Samsung gear s3 frontier>Any Android wear
  • I took my Google glass explorer and dismounted it from the frame and glued it to my existing glasses. No going back. I use them every day and would never put this piece of technology away. For those that gave up, your loss.
  • I completely agree with you. I still have my Google Glass. The only time I use it is when we go on a significant vacation. But for that it is awesome! I always have a camera at the ready to take photos or capture video. Directions are right up in my view. Translation to English from other languages. I could go on. Unfortunately, it is so Google to start something and then give up on it. Hangouts, for me, is the poster child for that. Rather than make Hangouts better, they launched two new services to replace what Hangouts did in one - and those do not do it as well!