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article imageNew version of Google Glass being distributed

By Jenna Cyprus     Aug 4, 2015 in Technology
Google Glass may not be dead in the water after all. Apparently, Google is “quietly distributing” a newer version of the wearable eyepiece that was pulled from market after failing to gain traction.
At least, that's according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. This new version has some notable upgrades over the consumer version and is expected to be better received. However, it’s hard not to be skeptical when looking at the past.
Google Glass is Back
While Google looked to be the next over-hyped technology to fail in recent years, it appears that a resurgence of sorts may be on the horizon — albeit in a slightly different form. What’s interesting is that Google is “quietly distributing” the new version “exclusively” to businesses. In other words, the hope is that the technology will be given a chance to succeed without being forced to sit under the careful microscope of the media and consumer marketplace. While the wearable eyepiece won’t get as much attention as it has in the past, there are still plenty of outsiders watching to see how it performs under new circumstances.
“The new version reportedly has quite a few upgrades over the consumer version,” writes Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica. “For starters, the unit is finally hinged, allowing it to be folded up just like a real pair of glasses.” Other features include a new Intel processor, improved wireless connectivity, a significantly thinner display prism, and horizontal and vertical prism adjustment. Additionally, an external battery pack allows for all-day use in business settings.
The new release is reportedly called the “Enterprise Edition” and is expected to be more practical and user friendly than the first version. Multiple sources say an improved consumer version is still in the works for Google, but the Enterprise Edition is currently the focus. “Presumably businesses would be more welcoming of a clunkier, unfashionable device if it allows workers to be more productive, and then once bugs are worked out, a consumer launch would be up next,” Amadeo suggests.
Fadell: ‘Working on a Total Rebrand’
When Nest founder and CEO Tony Fadell took over the Google Glass project, he emphatically declared that the release of the original “Explorer Edition” was a mistake. He believes this because he also feels Glass has the potential to be as transformative and impactful as the iPod, iPhone, or iPad.
While beta versions are normal — and necessary — for Google, Fadell is clear that beta testing should have been delayed a bit longer. It’s his belief that more iterating and testing in the confines of the laboratory would have been better than charging customers a premium for physical hardware. “They [customers] want something that delivers value or you end up with a real disappointment and you can spoil the market,” he told BBC in a recent interview. However, this hasn’t stopped Fadell from moving forward.
After coming on board, he reportedly told Google he wanted to completely redesign the product from scratch. In other words, Fadell wants it to look different and work differently.
“There will be no public experimentation,” one of Fadell’s advisors tells the New York Times. “Tony is a product guy and he’s not going to release something until it’s perfect.” That raises the question: Is the Explorer Edition an experiment, or the real thing? If it’s the real thing, will the consumer edition be similar — or distinctly different?
Fadell and his team aren’t saying much at this point. Google continually responds to requests for a comment with a standard statement that says the team takes a “heads down” approach to the project. Unofficially, sources close to Google claim the consumer version will deviate significantly from the original version of Glass.
Overcoming Public Perception and Concerns
As Fadell would readily admit, the biggest issue for Glass will be overcoming negative perceptions and concerns from the general public. The beta version of the technology was beset with significant amounts of controversy, mostly due to the fact that the wearer could take pictures or record videos without those around them knowing. A number of San Francisco bars actually prohibited the use of Glass in establishments after a number of attacks on users. The technology was also banned in places like move theaters, casinos, cars, banks, and hospitals.
As Fadell told BBC, “It’s going to take time to get it right.”
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