What's that strange feeling? Almost like I've seen a ghost. Oh, Google Glass isn't dead after all? That'll be it. There have been recent signs that the seemingly abandoned experimental wearable might be making a return in one form or another, more than 2 years after the Glass Explorer Program officially ended. The first was an update to the MyGlass app last month, after lying dormant for nearly 3 years. This was followed the next day by a mysterious firmware update making its way to any Glass Explorer Edition units still in use. Google has confirmed that was regular maintenance to the consumer device, and not related to this fresh news about the Glass Enterprise Edition that Alphabet's experimental X subsidiary (formerly Google[x]) has been busy working on for the last two years.
In a post on Medium, Project Lead Jay Kothari has announced wider availability for the new Glass version that has been part of a limited program for the last 2 years, where X has been working with certain partners to develop a device capable of aiding the workforce in a range of different industries. For example, alongside bespoke software made by Upskill, Glass is being used by GE Aviation mechanics to display important instructional information right before their eyes while they carry out airplane maintenance or assembly. Glass frees up their hands, and it's estimated their efficiency has improved by 8-12%, while also reducing the number of costly errors that can occur when a mechanic has to put down tools to consult a computer or document.
Aside from GE, the Glass team has also been working with more than 50 companies, including the likes of AGCO, DHL, and Volkswagen. Following the successful trial of the Enterprise Edition, X is now making it available to more businesses through its Glass Partners. It will be possible to draw on the experience gained over the course of the last two years to customize the software experience and meet the needs of various new clients. Improvements to the device include increased power and battery life, as well as making it more comfortable to wear for long periods. Battery life was always a major cause of consternation with the old Explorer model, so it will be interesting to see how much better the new version will be.
Glass Enterprise Edition in use at Dignity Health, AGCO and DHL.
Have a read of the full blog post to learn some of the other interesting applications the Enterprise Edition has been involved with. When the project "graduated" from Google X back in 2015 they did allude to this kind of future, so we shouldn't be so surprised. It's also easy to forget that an Enterprise Edition passed through the FCC at the end of 2015. But after such a long public silence, and a lot of disappointed fans, a triumphant return didn't seem likely. I, for one, am glad to see it back, and even more so now that it's being put to such good use. The technology was surely always too good to be used just to post on Facebook or check the weather.