Google finally ends production of the latest generation of its Glass headgear after ten years of resistance

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  • Google just made the official decision to stop making its Google Glass Enterprise Edition augmented reality headsets. The widely publicized wearable computer/heads-up display was still available to potential business clients despite having long since left the consumer market. Google said in its announcement, “Thank you for almost a decade of innovation and partnership. “We will stop selling Glass Enterprise Edition on March 15, 2023. Until September 15, 2023, we’ll be supporting Glass Enterprise Edition.”

If you’re anything like me, you may have wondered, “Wait, Google Glass wasn’t discontinued like, eight years ago?” when you first heard this news. It turns out that it has long ago enjoyed this extended second life for industrial and medical situations.

Together with Chrome, Fiber, and its support for Android OS, Glass was another bright promise of the Google Future in 2013. The initial release of Glass headsets to influencers and tech journalists received a lot of media attention. Glass had a heads-up display, could take images, and in some ways anticipated wearables that are similar to smartphones like the Apple Watch or more sophisticated Fitbits.

It was also peak tech guy, more like “Haha, this Silicon Valley sitcom is quite amusing, I hope they’re smarter than this in real life” than “Oh my goodness, these guys are reprogramming our brain chemistry with omnipresent reactive advertising.” Calling Glass wearers “Glassholes” was a genuine thing, as Ars Technica points out in this Penny Arcade comic from the era. Consumer Glass was gently eased off the stage in 2015, as Google is wont to do with technologies like Reader or Stadia, which are from simpler times.

Google Glass, then. Although most of us undoubtedly already assumed it was gone, the failure of a device that was as representative of its era as the Dreamcast, HD DVD, or Betamax is nonetheless heartbreaking. In some ways, we already live in a Silicon Valley future, but Glass seemed to hint to a more enjoyable one in which we could all play the role of Geordi La Forge. The fact that Stadia’s entire existence was constrained on both ends by Google Glass is also amusing. The shut down game streaming service just can’t seem to get anything right.

That’s where Enterprise, the wearable’s second act, which is about to end, comes in. The potential applications of Enterprise are discussed in a 2015 Bloomberg article, and the complete technical specifications are described in a 2017 post. It doesn’t appear to have taken off any more widely in this context than it did for personal use.

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