What Happened to Google Glass?

“What happened to Google Glass?” is exactly what I have been asking myself for the past 4 years. Earlier this semester I tweeted out that Intel was making another push for Smart Glasses by making their own “Vault” glasses. However, I wanted to dive a little bit deeper into this subject than a simple tweet because smart glasses might someday be as common as smart watches or even smart phones.


Did someone say curiosity?

My first experience with Google Glass was in my senior year of high school, Spring 2014. My school was participating in the Google Glass Demo program. We received a Google Glass and could keep it for a period of time. One of the teachers would try it out and give feedback to Google on its viability for schools. If he and the school deemed it suitable for purchase, the school could acquire it for around $1000. Lucky for me Mr. Scranton, my photography teacher, was one of my close friends and I was able to get my hands on the device at school for an extended period of time.


An early stage Google Glass model. Similar to the model I used.

Unfortunately, Google Glass wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. It truly was a beta test and could do very little. For starters, it was clunky, the glasses didn’t feel naturally integrated with your outfit the same way that smartwatches feel to many the first time they use them. Tapping the side of the glasses just as the guy in the picture above is doing would prompt the Augmented Reality to be activated. A small display would appear in the bottom right corner of your view and you could do things like read emails, take pictures (which had an extremely slow response time) and of course, “google things”. The internet browser was weak at best. Reading anything other than a Wikipedia article was tedious and clunky. Try to think about reading an article on your smartwatch, it just doesn’t feel quite right. And just like that, my Google Glass experience was pretty much over.

When I recently tweeted out that Intel was creating their own “Vault” smart glasses I had thought it was about time. Intel’s new glasses are based mostly upon the notion that more information isn’t necessarily better. When creating the glasses, Intel realized that people don’t necessarily want an even more invasive way for their social media to flood their lives. Specifically mentioned in their promo video, the glasses allow you to subtly view pertinent notifications and dismiss them easily. Still in prototype form as of February 2018, Intel will release an early access program later this year according to Digital Trends.


Intel Vault Glasses. Stylish and Subtle

The technology behind the glasses is incredible. It actually projects a Vertical Cavity Surface Emiting Laser (VCSEL) onto your eye which gives you the ability to view images in Augmented Reality. This differs from Google Glass because the glasses appear much more sleek without a massive camera attached to the side of them. This smoother integration drives the Vault towards usage in the social sphere more so than Google Glass was able to. Another facet of the technology is the activation of the glasses. One can bring up a display by merely tilting one’s head 30 degrees upwards (the angle can be customized to preference). I believe that Vault is making huge strides towards smart glass integration in the world.

But the real answer to the question of where did Google Glass go…enterprise, that’s where. Google Glass discontinued it’s consumer edition of the glasses but Alphabet partnered with Streye to apply the Glass to business in late 2017. GE was one of the companies that implemented this technology to their manufacturing process and the results are incredible. Instructional videos, animations and images are displayed on the glass and aid in the job being performed. GE Aviation uses these tools to improve airplane engine maintenance and have done so by increasing Mechanic Efficiency by about 8-12%. DHL, Boeing and Volkswagen are other corporate partners among more than 50 others who have started using Glass for Enterprise.


Google Glass in action at General Electric Aviation

So where does that leave us? Intel’s Vault Glasses are in early stage prototyping and may make their way onto the streets of San Francisco or Manhattan in the next two years or so. Google Glass is taking off with Enterprises and custom software is being created for each and every one of their unique situations. And interestingly enough, Apple is trying to get a piece of the pie with rumors of Project Mirrorshades, an AR headset of their own. However, these are mere speculations right now based upon acquisitions and strategic movements. Apple made an acquisition back on November 21st 2017 of a Startup called Vrvana which specialized in AR technology. Similarly Quanta, a well known Apple partner, claimed to be developing an AR project for an anonymous client as well. Digital Trends expects Apple’s glasses to at least break into the public sphere in 2019. These three massive companies are breaking into yet another realm of technology and pushing the boundaries of what it means to live in the digital age.


  1. Great thoughts and future projections, Tucker! I tried Glass during that beta period as well, and fully agree with your thoughts about that initial implementation. I never thought something so cumbersome and obviously intrusive could gain much traction with the broader consumer market after being tested by early adopters. I believe the best pieces of future tech will be both subtle in both design and information delivery. No one wants to seem like their life is being run by a device, hence why more smartwatches are now coming with options to look more like their analog counterparts. With that in mind, I have much more confidence in Intel’s version of AR glasses, which seem much more disguised and understated.

    Although Glass floundered in the consumer market, I’ve no doubt that commercial applications will prove much more fruitful. In these environments, appearance is an afterthought, with user convenience and utility being at the forefront of consideration. Since Glass is proving to have a tangible effect on company profitability, I think companies will become increasingly receptive to their use as additional applications are found. And since more players are entering the AR space, it seems like there will be many new applications of AR to look forward to in the years to come.

  2. mikecarillo111 · ·

    I too was able to try the beta test of Google glass. Of course I thought it was super cool and interesting at the time, but definitely too bulky and it had a lot of other flaws. However, even back in freshmen year of college (when I tried it), I saw the potential for the AR technology that could seamlessly integrate into our everyday activities. Intel’s version of the AR glasses seems like a much more viable and marketable device once it gets a little sleeker. Furthermore, with technology hardware focusing on getting smaller and sleeker, I think the smart glasses that aren’t as noticeable will sell the most.

  3. mpduplesmba · ·

    There are countless examples of tablets, smartwatches, mp3 players, social networking, and so much more that failed because the product/technology was too early for its time. I think eventually we will look back and view Google Glass in similar light. Luckily for Google, its glasses were/are a side project that did not tank the company like many others.
    The enterprise applications are really interesting to me. I have worked for 2 small manufacturing companies and can easily envision how this technology could have helped the shop floor workers. Often workstations were covered in signs, instruction notes, and cheat sheets. All of this information could be displayed with Glass making for a cleaner, safer, and more efficient process. I wonder if the price tag at this time is prohibitive for small companies.

  4. murphycobc · ·

    I wonder though, if through additional testing and more players getting into the game, that this becomes like the smart watch – something that initially was bulky and awkward and used for cycling and marathon runners. @mikecarillo111 touched upon it with the Intel glasses getting sleeker, Google could pop back up later in the cycle, like they did with the Google Pixel.

  5. addisonBC2018 · ·

    Tucker, this is a great topic! The minute I read your post title, I thought – whoa, what DID happen to Google Glass? I remember these were hyped up a lot when we were younger, probably because it was our first ‘idea’ of wearable tech. It’s funny to reflect and see how the tides turned and smart watches took over, versus Google Glass. I also particularly enjoyed how you pointed out that Google Glass isn’t dead – it’s just out of sight (no pun intended). It’s really cool to see how the technology has been applied to things like the manufacturing process and completely changed the industry!

  6. Really nice post. Most students dont’ realize that glass has found an enterprise application. I was actually an original Glass owner. It was clear that this wasn’t the future at the time, but it was a proof of concept an Google is doing at TON with augmented reality (more than VR), so I don’t think that future is dead yet!

  7. Keenan Neff · ·

    I completely forgot that the Google glasses existed. I remember all of the hype surrounding them a few years back, but it seemed like they never really blew up. I think that the smart watch really took a big market share away from the Google Glass. People are not going to give up their phones, but the smart watch allowed people to be able to check the time and notifications without physically taking their phone out of their pockets. I think that Google Glass was trying to do the same thing for glasses but never really found the right fit. With the smart watch, users can change the fit around their wrists easily, however with the glasses, everyone has a different fit, and one cannot simply just adjust the fit of the glasses without buying a new pair. However, that being said, I think that the AI used in the development of these glasses is pretty amazing, and will be very interesting to see in the future how these companies will use AI for products like smart glasses.

  8. mariaknoerr · ·

    Wow am I the only person who did not get to test Google Glass? Great post! It is interesting to see how Google was able to re-purpose what seemed to be a failed project in consumers’ minds to a valuable tool for enterprise. I wonder if Intel’s Vault Glasses will have the same effect on the eyewear industry one day as the Apple Watch had with the watch industry. While there are many factors that would come into play in this environment, especially considering prescription lenses, it could be an interesting new disruptor to the industry.

  9. realjakejordon · ·

    Tucker, did your inspiration for this post have anything to do with John Oliver’s monologue on crypto on Last Week Tonight this week? If not you definitely need to check it out its pretty funny, and evidently not too accurate about Google Glass being a complete fad. I had no idea that it was making a comeback, I hope they can deliver the revamped version to consumers soon!

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