The future and past of Google Glass

By Jordan Reger on


Introduction

The Google Glass is my favorite piece of technology ever invented. The design principles are, arguably, still only found in Google Glass. The reason it failed is the reason I think most AR/VR/MR products aren't very popular, still to this day. I'm not really a fan of any of these for the same reason I think most people aren't either - they're clunky, expensive, and, well, useless. You can argue that it's not meant to be useful because it's a gaming console. I think the work that would have to go into building some of the games that would actually benefit from VR would be too great for it to be worth it to the studios making them. Because of this, there's really no "killer app" to draw many consumers to them. The main failure cited by critics of Glass was its lack of a "killer app", just like the products after it. Except, should it have failed this way? Was it really plagued by the same problems? As I see it, no. Here's why: there was no killer app because it wasn't meant to have one... This is something I've realized only recently and will discuss further in this article.

The latest products to make waves are personal assistants that (are supposed to) stay out of your way. This is one of the design principles of Glass written more than 10 years ago. Products like the Rabbit R1 and the Humane AI pin are, in my opinion, all modern interpretations of the Glass idea. Something to reference when needed but, as I stated before, will stay out of the way the rest of the time. The R1 does this pretty poorly... why does it have a rabbit on it all the time? The AI Pin, however, does it pretty well. The AI Pin and Glass share this in common. What the R1 and Glass have in common is the wide connection surface: I do believe though, that this, ultimately, is where the Glass failed. I think that's in large part because Google has a decent suite of tools in it's arsenal so it never really decided to branch it out, but also because it launched 10 years ago when there really wasn't a necessity to have everything connected all in one place. I feel like we forget often that our insanely interconnected world has only gotten more so in the past 10 years, by orders of magnitude. Not very many people had a reason to call an Uber or order from Doordash from their face (relative to today). If it were to launch for the first time today, I think it'd have a better chance at surviving because of this.

I also think that Android may have killed it. I'm not entirely fond of app development as I often opt for CLI or web tools instead since they're easier to distribute to many people as well as easier to build in general. Furthermore, Android's sickening project structure has kept me away for a long time. That brings me to the next section of this article. Could Glass become a modern development environment? This idea has intrigued me for over a year. Graphical applications aren't terribly hard to write nowadays - Electron, Qt, SDL2, etc. all are staples in graphical development for modern apps (e.g. Discord is built on Electron) - so would it be beneficial to make a base layer to interface with the hardware and then allow more developer-friendly solutions for building apps? This may not be a question that's ever answered. It might honestly be easier to just stick to Android and make it much easier to develop with. However, I truly believe that the Glass could and should be a modern tool and am willing to do what it takes to make it so.


This document is still a work in progress.