The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google Glass is back! Google is “quietly distributing” a new version of the wearable eyepieces “exclusively” to businesses, where the company hopes it will be received better than it was in the consumer market. The report says that Google “doesn’t plan to officially launch the new version” but hopes to have businesses using it by fall this year.
The new version reportedly has quite a few upgrades over the consumer version. For starters, the unit is finally hinged, allowing it to be folded up just like a real pair of glasses. It’s got a new Intel processor, a larger, thinner display prism, improved wireless connectivity, and vertical prism adjustment, as well as horizontal. It also has an external battery back now, for all-day business use.
The Journal’s report backs up a lot of earlier details which have been streaming in from 9to5Google. In addition to most of the items above, the site says the unit is called “Google Glass Enterprise Edition” and has an Intel Atom processor and support for 5GHz 802.11ac Wi-Fi. 9to5 says the unit will be more rugged, waterproof, and will be distributed through the “Glass for Work” program.
Reportedly the software would mostly be left up to the distributors, which would have “free-reign” over the hardware. The current Glass for Work partners tout solutions for things like live-surgery demonstrations, “mobile storytelling experiences” for museums, and order picking apps for warehouses.
After Tony Fadell, the CEO of Google’s Nest, took over Google Glass, the project was “reset” and went from a public beta back to closed, secretive development. The “Enterprise Edition” is the first we’ve heard of the project since the reboot.
Google Glass made a lot of compromises to try and stay compact and socially acceptable while out in public, but if you’re going to use it as a business device in a private setting, wouldn’t a “full” face computer like a Microsoft HoloLens be more appropriate? Both The Wall Street Journal and 9to5Google say that a new consumer version is still on the way, which makes the “business” side road make a little more sense. Presumably businesses would be more welcoming of a clunkier, unfashionable device if it allows workers to be more productive, and then once the bugs are worked out, a consumer launch would be up next.