It’s safe to say that Google’s weird, buggy Glass augmented-reality headset was ahead of its time. The dream of augmented reality is coming back in full force, with Apple, Microsoft, Disney, and many other companies working seriously on AR. For several years, it seemed as if Glass had been shelved and forgotten by the tech giant. But today, Google announced that Glass isn’t dead–in fact, it’s back in an improved form meant for the workplace.
Called Glass Enterprise Edition, the new headset looks pretty much the same as the original incarnation, albeit a bit sturdier and more industrial-looking. It boasts improved processing power, longer battery life, a better camera, and a light to let other people know when it’s recording (a feature which the original lacked, motivating complaints from the public). It also works with prescription glasses.
Right now, it’s only available through Glass Partners, companies which work with Google to custom-build versions of the headset for customers. These include General Electric, whose airplane mechanics use Glass for engine manuals and blueprints, and Brain Power, which uses it as a tool to help with autism or traumatic brain injury. The price varies among the different versions of the headset.
Google hasn’t said much about whether or not the ill-fated consumer headset is still alive somewhere in the depths of the company. However, the Enterprise Edition has been in the hands of companies for a while now and seems to have found a niche. In this way, it’s a lot like Microsoft’s HoloLens headset, which is meant more for businesses and likely won’t reach consumers in the near future.
In any case, it’s interesting to see more and more companies making forays into AR, even as virtual reality attempts to gain a foothold with consumer audiences. And although Google hasn’t announced any AR product for gamers, other companies, like Apple and Disney, have already talked about their plans for AR gaming.
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