Last December, Google unceremoniously killed off Google Glass Explorer Edition with a final software update, leaving the Glass Enterprise Edition 2 as the only remaining AR wearable from Google.
Now, Google is making it easier for enterprise customers and developers to acquire a pair of their smartglasses by enabling them to purchase the device directly from hardware resellers.
"Glass Enterprise Edition 2 has helped people working in logistics, manufacturing, field services, and a variety of other industries do their jobs more efficiently through hands-free access to the information and tools they need to do their job," said Jay Kothari, project lead for Glass, in a blog post. "Since Glass Enterprise Edition 2 launched last May, we've seen strong demand from developers and businesses who are interested in building new, helpful enterprise solutions for Glass."
Previously, the only way for enterprise customers to get their hands on Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 was to engage with one of Google's solution providers, including Augmedix (one of the top 25 AR investments of 2019), Ubimax, and Upskill (also among the top 2019 investments), among others. Glass solution providers package Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 with software, system integration, and deployment services.
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"Enterprises who have deployed Glass with experiences built by our network of solution providers, have seen faster production times, improved quality, and reduced costs," said Kothari.
Now, anyone with a major credit card or a PayPal account can buy the Glass Enterprise Edition 2 developer kit (which includes the Glass pod and titanium band) from Mobile Advance. They can also buy the pod by itself (with the required titanium band are sold separately) through CDW and SHI.
Also, Google is making it easier for developers to build apps for Glass Enterprise Edition 2. Because Glass runs on Android, developers can already leverage existing services and APIs. Now, the Glass team has also made open source applications and code samples with layout examples and recommended UI assets available to developers for them to get started building apps for the smartglasses.
"We're excited to see what kinds of new experiences and solutions developers will make for Glass to shape the future of work," said Kothari.
Google's initial public beta of Glass as a consumer product is now just a blip on the AR smartglasses and headsets timeline. But, the pivot of Glass towards the Enterprise Edition in 2017 has breathed new life into the wearable, with 17 solutions providers building business applications for the device. The sequel, which arrived last year, upgrades the wearable with Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 processor explicitly built for smartglasses.
However, Glass isn't the only name in enterprise AR hardware, as a small army of manufacturers has built their takes on Glass. Vuzix has its own XR1-powered wearables in its product portfolio, while Epson has established a niche in the drone industry with its Moverio line. Even Olympus, traditionally a camera company, has gotten into the act.
Moreover, a wave of modestly-priced Android smartglasses from China, led by Nreal Light, poses another threat. While Nreal Light has its sights set on consumers, it has also demonstrated it's capacity to get work done with apps for event planning and field service functions.
Nonetheless, while Google doesn't have the enterprise hardware segment to itself, it does have one of the world's most recognizable brand names and stewardship over the Android operating system to attract business customers and app developers.
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