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Back in 2013, Google attempted to get way ahead of the augmented reality game with its Google Glass headset. Although first billed as a tech game changer, the $1,500 price tag and privacy concerns made it a wholesale commercial flop. But despite some belated success among medical professionals and first responders via Google’s 2017 Glass Enterprise revamp, the much-memed product never really broke through to the masses. Yesterday, Google officially announced the demise of its Glass product line.
According to a company statement, headsets are no longer available for purchase, while support for Glass Enterprise Edition will continue through mid-September of this year. “Thank you for over a decade of innovation and partnership,” writes Google, in the brief end to one of the more infamous modern tech rollouts.
Initially resembling frameless eyewear, Google’s headset included a small, rectangular, transparent glass (hence the name) above the wearer’s right eye. A miniature onboard computer system beamed bits of information through the prism. Users could then utilize features like map directions, photo and video capabilities, and weather forecasts in front of them while maintaining a clear vision of their surrounding, real-world environment. Future iterations resembled protective eyewear designs, and were often utilized in industries such as factory manufacturing.
The announcement likely comes as no surprise to most—alongside a “Wait, Google still made those?” from many others—as the Big Tech giant’s last edition of Glass Enterprise came out almost four years’ ago in 2019 alongside a $999 price tag. Since then, Google’s chief rivals at Meta and Apple have poured massive amounts of cash into their own respective AR projects. In 2021, Meta collaborated with Ray-Ban to release camera-embedded sunglasses, albeit with no augmented display features, and (until recently) was going all in on pushing a “metaverse” experience via its Meta Quest headset line. Meanwhile, Apple is widely reported to be on the cusp of rolling out its own wearable AR/VR product line.
[Related: Best VR headsets in 2023.]
As CNBC also notes, the demise of Glass in no way means Google is out of the AR game—far from it, in fact. Last summer, the company unveiled a new prototype iteration of augmented reality eyewear, although specifics like a release window, price point, or even a name have yet to be announced. Whatever its name may be, perhaps it won’t be as easy to turn into a snarky pun as Google Glass.