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Why Did Google Glass Fail?

We live in an age of technology-driven, futuristic solutions to problems that many of us don’t even think exist! Tech...


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W e live in an age of technology-driven, futuristic solutions to problems that many of us don’t even think exist! Tech companies in particular are leading the way in providing customers with innovative products, which has also resulted in augmented reality becoming the new hype. One such product was Google Glass. But why did Google Glass fail?

How It Started

Almost exactly an entire decade ago, Google unveiled a product that was unlike any other available in the market. The concept video and photos of Google Glass, a pair of smart glasses that would serve as a wearable computer, were first released in April 2012. From the calendar to weather updates to music, this device offered it all –packed in a single, portable product. Naturally, the uniqueness and glamor it exhibited caught the attention of tens of millions of people. It was a good start for the tech giant’s new endeavor.

During a demo at the Google I/O in 2012, they showed its first prototype (called the ‘Project Glass’). Thereby, skydivers parachuting from a non-rigid airship in the sky to the Moscone Center were shown via a live Hangout; they ran indoors to join Google’s co-founder, Sergey Brin, on stage after landing. Brin then asked the audience if they would like to witness a demo of Glass. Needless to say, the crowd couldn’t contain its excitement! 

Later, Google tapped into the world of fashion to market its product as a fashionable accessory on top of being a technological game-changer. They did so by releasing additional footage containing its prototype as part of the Diane von Furstenberg show’s behind-the-scenes look at the 2012  New York Fashion Week.

Additionally, in what may have come to the internet as a shock (and definitely didn’t sit well with Larry Page, Google’s CEO), Robert Scoble, a technical evangelist and an early supporter of the Glass, posted a picture of himself wearing the Glass in the shower –advocating for its waterproof nature.

Regardless, Google managed to create a buzz around its product, and the company launched the ‘Explorer program’ in the US in 2013 –giving software developers the opportunity to purchase the Glass for $1,500. In spring, the Explorers began receiving their Glass, which would be picked up from one of the company’s designated Glass “Basecamps”, positioned in multiple cities including New York City, San Francisco, London, and Los Angeles. Therein, the Explorers were given quite a royal treatment while being given a demo on the usage of what was hoped to be the new tech-cum-fashion statement.

The Downfall

In 2014, the mailing of the devices to the Explorers’ houses birthed concerns around privacy and the term “glasshole”, to refer to a socially unacceptable manner of using Glass. Concerns around privacy were centered around the fear of being secretly recorded by a fellow Glass-wearer, owing to the fact that Google Glass could record anything, anywhere, at any time, without the consent of the people at its receiving end.

There were health concerns due to the product description mentioning that it would radiate carcinogenic radiation close to the wearer’s eyes and mind. It would also become increasingly heated after a video spanning 10-15 minutes would be recorded, making it difficult to continue to wear without letting it cool down and, thus, posing potential health problems.

Then, the lack of consensus between its creators regarding its usability was also an issue; some believed that it could be worn throughout the day, whereas others wanted it to be worn for serving particular functions. The said functions were also being called into question by the customers, who found the product of little to no use. It only allowed its users to capture pictures fast and to do Internet searches within seconds. Neither of those features was innovative enough for the customers to want to invest such a huge sum of money.

On top of everything, the device’s short battery life of a meager 4 hours made it a disappointment. The need to charge it multiple times a day to allow for extended use added to its inaccessibility as a viable product. Moreover, it wasn’t attuned to languages other than English. It didn’t even have a feature for corrective keyboards (unlike smartphones) for better language detection, therefore restricting its market further and setting it up for conclusive failure.

Conclusion

The stacks of complaints and lack of usability led Google to announce the ending of its Explorer program in January 2015.

With great hype come great expectations. Failure to live up to them is what led to the failure of the Google Glass. However, they paved the way for future smart glasses. What this experiment proves is that in order for a product to be successful, its scope needs to be beyond just a status symbol or fashion statement, otherwise it will fail the way Google Glass did. Now you know why did Google Glass fail!