Google discontinues Google Glass Enterprise, ends early AR project

Alphabet’s Glass is used in manufacturing

Alphabet

Google has stopped selling its Glass Enterprise smart glasses, the company announced on its website on Wednesday. Google will also stop supporting its software in September, the company said.

The move is the end of the line for one of the first — and still one of the most recognized — smart glasses product lines from a major tech company.

Glass Enterprise was the successor to Google Glass, a lightweight eyewear product that displayed small bits of information on a transparent screen in the user’s field of vision.

First sold to developers and early adopters in 2013 for $1,500, Glass quickly captured the imagination of tech enthusiasts. But despite backing from Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the Glass project at Google never caught on as a mainstream product. The built-in camera led to battles over privacy, and the product became the butt of jokes on late-night television.

In 2017, Google positioned the product as a tool for companies to perform applications such as streaming healthcare appointments or training employees on the factory floor.

Google most recently released a new $999 version of the hardware in 2019.

Google’s retreat comes as rivals including Meta and Apple invest in augmented reality and virtual reality technology, which could end up in devices much more sophisticated than Google Glass.

Meta has released Ray-Ban smart glasses with cameras but no screen, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has talked publicly about a Google Glass-like final form of the product line.

Apple is reportedly preparing a virtual reality headset that can use video from outward-facing cameras to display the outside world, like a transparent lens.

Microsoft has its own augmented reality glasses for businesses, the HoloLens, but the company reportedly laid off parts of the team working on it earlier this year, and the device’s creator, Alex Kipman, left the company in 2022.

However, the end of Glass does not mean that Google has given up on augmented reality or smartglasses. Last summer, Google previewed another pair of smart glasses that could translate and transcribe speech in real time, and said it would continue to test prototype augmented reality glasses in the public.

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