When Google announced the creation of Glass Explorer Edition in 2012, it felt like the future had officially arrived. This futuristic looking headset utilized a touchpad that let users toggle through apps that could show information like weather, news, or maps. Users also had the option to control Glass with their voice, similar to a Google Home. The device allowed people to take pictures from their glasses, allowing them to always have a camera at the ready. While Google Glass seemed ready to revolutionize eyewear, steep costs and privacy concerns derailed its takeover.
The biggest barrier to entry for consumers regarding Glass was its price point. Spending $1,500 on a headset that basically does what a smartphone does is not feasible for most people. As a result, Glass ownership was limited to rich people. There is nothing inherently wrong with creating high–end, expensive products, but Google’s problem stemmed from the fact that so few people were actually walking around wearing their headset. Because only a select few could afford to wear the headset, some members of the public felt like their privacy was being violated in the presence of Glass.
Privacy concerns over Glass stemmed from the headset’s camera, which did not have a cover, so people could never tell if it was in use. This fear of constant surveillance led to bar fights and caused the ban of Glass at some bars and restaurants. In addition to the privacy concerns, Glass wasn’t visually pleasing. The combination of ugly design, privacy issues, and a high price tag led to dismal sales and, in turn, caused Google to discontinue the Explorer version.
Even though the Explorer program failed, Google has since landed on its feet with the Glass Enterprise editions. The Enterprise Edition is designed for use in fields like medicine, and it’s proving to be a revolutionary addition. Glass gives surgeons the ability to view patients’ heart rate, blood pressure, and other statistics without having to look away. The camera could potentially allow a surgeon to consult with specialists from anywhere through a video call. It also can provide doctors with reminders or help with efficiency at the front desk. While the Explorer edition of Glass lacked a clear purpose, the Enterprise version has found its useful, potentially life-saving niche.
In addition to finding more clear–cut uses for the product, Google has solved the main issues that plagued the Explorer edition. The actual glasses on Enterprise models are stylish, thick-framed, and rectangular, solving the fashion issue they experienced with the Explorer. With Glass’s market shifting from consumers to businesses, the privacy concerns are not as relevant as members of the public won’t be covertly recorded anymore. The new price tag has also dropped to $999, a stark difference from the $1,500 price tag of the Explorer. Google’s ability to fix these issues in Glass have allowed them to salvage their product and use it to accomplish some amazing feats, especially in the medical profession.