Google hasn’t given up on its Glass ambitions. In fact, the company has become more confident about the future of smart glasses. On Monday, the search engine giant launched the Glass Enterprise Edition 2 to “meet the demands of the growing market for wearables in the workplace.”
The new Glass Enterprise Edition 2 costs just $999
Notably, the Google Glass has been moved out of Alphabet’s X moonshot factory to the Google family of products. It indicates that the wearable device is no longer just an experimental project. The company is anticipating strong sales for the Glass Enterprise Edition 2. The new Glass is meant only for enterprise customers. There is no consumer version of the device.
With the Glass Enterprise Edition 2, Google aims to help businesses improve how their employees work in construction, manufacturing, healthcare, warehousing, logistics, and other industries. It brings a better camera, a faster processor, and runs Android. It has been priced at $999, down from $1,600 for its predecessor which was launched two years ago.
The enterprise-focused Google Glass headset looks similar to a traditional pair of glasses. It features safety frames that Google designed in collaboration with Smith Optics. If you don’t want the safety frames, Google offers a standard version that looks similar to the original one.
It gets more processing power, AI capabilities
The Glass Enterprise Edition 2 features a 640 x 380 Optical Display that displays AR content over the real-world scenes. It gets a faster and more energy-efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 chip, which is designed for AR and VR devices. The processor also offers “computer vision and advanced machine learning capabilities.” The device also supports Google Assistant.
It has an improved 8-megapixel camera with an 80-degree field of view and a USB-C port for fast charging. Google has also added a bigger battery. The enterprise version of Google Glass runs Android Oreo rather than a heavily modified Glass OS. It also supports Android Enterprise Mobile Device Management. Thanks to Android, businesses can easily integrate their APIs and services into the hardware.
Other features include dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 5 support, a multi-touch gesture touchpad, and a magnetometer. The headset packs 3GB RAM, which is sufficient for most use cases.
The search engine giant had released the original Google Glass in 2013 for consumers. But it received a lot of criticism due to its design, functionality, and privacy concerns. Google launched the Enterprise version of the headset a couple of years ago. The company claims the Enterprise Google Glass leads to “faster production times, improved quality, and reduced costs.” The company no longer seems to be interested in the consumer segment.
Competitors not far behind
The new Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 could steal customers away from rivals like HoloLens 2, which is much more expensive. Google is betting big on AR headsets and smart glasses. Other companies are also working on similar products aimed at businesses. The consumer-focused AR glasses haven’t gained much traction as privacy remains a major concern.
Microsoft had originally launched a consumer version of HoloLens before shifting its focus to the enterprise market. HoloLens could be used in conjunction with Windows Holographic. Other vendors competing for a piece of the enterprise AR glasses market are Vuzix and Epson.
Apple is also rumored to be working on AR glasses of its own. It’s not yet known whether the product will be aimed at consumers or businesses. TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts Apple could bring its AR glasses to the market by 2020.
The analyst says Apple’s AR headset will be dependent on the iPhone. The iPhone would provide all the computational work, location services, Internet connectivity, and rendering. It means the AR headset will mainly serve as a display. The Cupertino company already offers ARKit apps on the iPhone and iPad.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook has been bullish on augmented reality. The company has filed numerous patents related to AR in the last few years. It aims to make AR more useful. Only time will tell when it will arrive.