Google Glass (Archived Report)

PDF version of this report
You must have Adobe Acrobat reader to view, save, or print PDF files. The reader
is available for free



by Geoff Keston

Copyright 2015,
Faulkner Information Services. All Rights Reserved.

Docid: 00021355

Publication Date: 1505

Publication Type: PRODUCT


Glass, the wearable device that offers
features similar to those of a smartphone, is now in a transitional
phase. The first version, the Explorer Edition, stopped being offered
to consumers in January 2015, and the company said that it was
developing newer versions. But what the next models of Glass will be
like and when they will be available remain unknown to the public.
Google’s statement about retiring the Explorer Edition indicates that
the company is still committed to the concept, but its vision for the
product’s future is unclear.

Report Contents:


[return to top
of this report]

Glass has generated tremendous media attention, but the first version
of it was primarily a test to determine what features and form factor
users would prefer, what applications the product would be good for,
what interest the market would show.

first model, the Explorer Edition, looked
roughly like a pair of spectacles, with a wraparound frame and two
nosepieces. On
the right side, there was an arm with  buttons for
rning the device on and off and performing a few other
functions. The
arm included speakers, a microphone, and a 5-megapixel, 720p camera.
The device’s computing hardware and battery were contained
the arm, as was a micro-USB port to which a charger connected. Its
Texas Instruments processor was the same model used on some phones and
and it employed Google’s Android operating
system, the most popular smartphone platform in the world.2



Ampitheatre Parkway
View, CA 94043

(650) 253-0000

Fax: (650)


of Vendor:
Search, Computer and Mobile Software, Web Commerce

Service Areas:
Stock Symbol:

On the end of the arm,
in the wearer’s field of vision, sat a small clear rectangle that
as the device’s display. The arm projected a
prism of
light into the rectangle, and this
projected light was calibrated to be visible to the user from a short
distance. The image appeared to users like a transparent covering over
objects in the real environment.3 
The display was half
of an inch wide, but, according to Google, it looked to users like a
25-inch screen from a normal TV viewing distance.4

The display presented a “timeline,” a
linear ordering of content that could be scrolled to the left or right
swiping the side of the arm.5
Items in
the timeline were called “cards,” and each displayed a
small amount of information, such as the current time. A user could
access more information by tapping on Glass’s arm.

Other notable features and functions of the Glass Explorer Edition included the following:

  • Users could initiate
    commands with the phrase “OK, Glass.” When a
    user said these words, the device displayed a list
    of available actions, such as sending a message, taking a
    picture, and searching the Web.
  • Users could take Glass out of “sleep mode” by
    tilting their heads back.
  • Many of Glass’s functions
    worked when the device was operating on its own, but other
    depended on integrating with smartphones. Glass worked with Bluetooth
    compatible phones, but the MyGlass app worked only with versions of
    Android phones.

  • The product used
    802.11 b/g Wi-Fi and could be configured to access hot spots.
  • As reported in
    Wired, Glass aimed to use bone conduction
    technology as an “integral vibrating element that provides audio
    to the user via contact with the user’s head.”6 This
    feature was intended to make noise from the environment less of a
  • The product was available in various colors
    and included two coverings, one
    clear and one shaded, that fit over it like a pair of
    sunshades resting on top of eyeglasses. Earbuds that
    connected to the device’s USB slot were available.7


In its short life, the first model of Google Glass generated
considerable buzz. While this buzz does not appear to have translated
into widespread interest in buying the product, any
successor that
Google releases will quickly grab attention. And with the release of
the Apple Watch, the general public may now be more accepting of
wearable computers.

Further, the first release of Google Glass likely
had some features that users found helpful and that will appear in
future releases. In particular, it integrated with Google’s various
services, making popular tools such as
Google’s email and messaging easily available.


early on, the product was criticized in many ways. In 2013, an
Atlantic article titled “Google
Glass Is Already This Broken” listed some of the problems noted by
A recurring issue was short battery life. One of
the reviewers cited was Tim Stevens, who wrote in Engadget that
“Battery size is unknown, but battery life is: it’s poor. In what we’d
consider average usage, reading emails and taking short pictures and
videos, we got about five hours before the headset unceremoniously shut
itself down.”9

Security was another issue.
Some reviewers complained that data
could easily be accessed by strangers who picked up someone else’s
device, and members of the US Congress even sent Google a letter citing
concerns about how the videos, pictures, and other data the product
collected could be used.10 The
Atlantic cited complaints about how the device fits and that the
default version of
the product
did not fit correctly over actual prescription glasses.

Another issue was how to make the device quickly
responsive to voice commands over a wireless connection.
such as Wi-Fi or cellular signal strength can play a role in voice
recognition time, causing a delay in picture taking or video recording
commands,” said an analysis in
.11 That article noted that even a
Google video about the
product showed a delay between when a “user
says, ‘OK Glass, take
picture’ and when the image is captured.”

while technical issues might be able to be overcome, a more intractable
problem may be that the product was widely considered to
be uncool, even “creepy.”12 So even if
Google can make Glass work better, it still might not be able to make
the product into something that people want.


[return to top
of this report]

The first version of Google
Glass was less of a finished product
than an invitation to developers to create applications. It never
really went beyond its beta stage. Glass began with
three applications: taking pictures and recording videos; getting
emails, calls, and text messages; and using Google services.13
new apps continued to emerge: games, social networking
tools, product
maintenance utilities, business software, and payment software were all
added. (For a helpful list of many Google Glass
see the
at Google Glass Apps.)

At this point, it is unclear
whether successors to the first model of Glass will have similar


[return to top
of this report]

Google maintained an online help
center for Glass that provided brief
documentation organized into linked sections and accessible
to a search function. Users could also ask questions over email (with
expected response time of 48 hours) and call for support on
weekdays and weekends between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. Pacific Time.

Google Glass received
software updates designed to add features
and improve performance.


[return to top
of this report]

The price for Google Glass was
USD $1,500.


to top
of this report]

Google has stopped offering Glass for the moment, competitors are still
offering similar devices. Two lower-end competitors are the Vizux
M100, which is billed as a hands-free extension to phones,
and Epson’s Moverio, which is less than
half the price of Google Glass but offers fewer features and is
obtrusive on a person’s face.

Vizux’s and Epson’s products are already available. And other, larger
competitors may launch their own products soon. Microsoft and Sony have
both announced plans to release glasses-like products. Microsoft’s
product will display holograms, so it offers a feature that sharply
distinguishes it from Google Glass.14 And Sony’s
product is expected to cost $840, so its price sharply distinguishes it.15
Ultimately, Microsoft and Sony may prove to have more
marketable visions for wearable computers.

an interview of
Google co-founder
Sergey Brin, the curator of Ted Talks, Chris Anderson, offered an
interesting observation that helps to put the competitive landscape for
Google Glass into perspective: “People would have expected this to have
come out of Apple and not Google.”17
Indeed, the simple,
sleek look of Google Glass was reminiscent of Apple’s minimalist
aesthetic. And while Google rose to prominence by offering mostly free
services that have broad appeal among business users and consumers, the
$1,500 price tag of the first version of Glass made it a luxury
item with a
narrow target market. With these thoughts in
mind, it is
perhaps best to consider Glass as less of a product than a
concept of ergonomic, non-intrusive communication technologies — and
this concept may take different forms in the future.


[return to top
this report]

Anton Shilov. “Google Glass Has Fully-Functional
Application Processor Inside — Reports.” April 28, 2013.
Xbit Laboratories.
2 IDC. “Android and iOS Squeeze the Competition,
Swelling to
96.3% of the Smartphone Operating System Market for Both 4Q14 and CY14,
According to IDC.” IDC. February 24, 2015.
3 Martin Missfeldt. “How Google Glass Works.”
Brillen & Sehhilfen. February 2013.
4 Taylor Hatmaker. “Google Glass Unboxing Photo
Gallery: Meet
the Future of Mobile.” ReadWrite. May 6, 2013.
5 Google.
“Glass How-To: Getting Started.” April 30, 2013.
6 Philippa Warr. “Google Glass to Use Bone
Vibration Instead of Traditional Headphones.” Wired. February
4, 2013.
Will Shanklin. “Review: Google Glass
Explorer Edition 2.0.” Gizmag. January 4, 2014.
8 Rebecca Greenfield. “Google Glass Is Already
This Broken.”
. May 1, 2013.
9 Tim Stevens. “Google Glass Review (Explorer
Engadget. April 30, 2013.
10 Wayne Rash. “Congress Demands Answers about
Glass.” eWeek.
May 19, 2013.
Dann Berg. “Google Glass Unveils Voice Control Interface, Public
Availability.” Laptop Magazine. February 20, 2013.
12 Jason Mick.
“Great Expectations: The Rise and Fall of Google Glass Explorer
Edition.” DailyTech. January 16, 2015.
13 Joanna
Stern. “Google Glass: What You Can and Can’t Do with
Google’s Wearable Computer.” ABC News. May 2, 2013.

Gaudin. “Uh Oh, Google, Here Comes Microsoft’s HoloLens.”
ComputerWorld. January 21, 2015.
15 Tim Hornyak. “Sony to Release Developer
Edition Smart Glasses for
$840.” ComputerWorld. February 17, 2015.

16  Ted
Talks. “Sergey Brin Talks about Google Glass at TED
2013.” March 20, 2013.

Web Links

[return to top of this report]

Google Glass Apps:
Texas Instruments:

About the Author

to top of this report]


is the author of more
than 250 articles that help organizations find opportunities in
business trends and technology. He also works directly with clients to
develop communications strategies that improve processes and customer
relationships. Mr. Keston has worked as a project manager for a major
technology consulting and services company and is a Microsoft Certified
Systems Engineer and a Certified Novell Administrator.

to top of this report]