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Google Pauses Glass Production

It looks like the novelty of wearable tech might be wearing off, at least for the time being, as it’s been revealed that Google has halted production of Glass. In a statement posted to its Google+ page, the brains behind the virtual reality visors announced that as of January 19 Google’s Explorer Program was to be terminated, making it the last day anyone could buy the Explorer Edition of Google Glass.

The first version of Google Glass appeared mid-2011 and a refined version of the device went on sale publicly in May 2014 for the princely sum of $1500. Since then it’s made plenty of headlines, mainly negative ones, proving the limitations of wearable tech rather than its viability.

Most of the noise surrounding Glass has been because of privacy concerns, with many people objecting to potentially being filmed going about their everyday business  by one of Google’s intrepid and invasive Explorers. The self-righteous attitude of a particular breed of Explorer evangelists even led to the creation of the term “glassholes”.

Debates quickly arose about where it was OK to use the glasses, and if it was safe to use them while driving, and it wasn’t long before some restaurants and public places banned them. Not surprisingly Glass was a no-go in the cinema and casinos also became wary of the potential of using the technology to cheat.

As well as the problems associated with turning people into walking CCTV cameras there were some fundamental issues with the tech itself, as a gadget and a fashion accessory. These were the poor battery life – 45 minutes – and the fact that it never looked quite as good on its key demographic as it did on the Glass girls in its promotional photos. Google attempted to make Glass look like something that belonged on the pages of Cosmopolitan as much as it did Wired, and it failed.

The lessons to be learned from Glass about wearable tech are that it has to have a reasonable battery life, a day is just about acceptable but less than an hour is silly, it has to look good and most of all it can’t make everyone else who isn’t wearing it feel uncomfortable.

It isn’t the end of the road for Glass and while wannabe explorers may have to wait a bit longer to see what the world is like through the eyes of a search engine the tech will return eventually. But in what form it’s not yet clear.

The official statement says that Glass is ‘graduating’ from Google Labs, but it doesn’t say where it’s going. Judging by the reaction so far it may well be that the tech goes down as being more fad than fashionable. There’s still life in wearable gadgets yet though and next contender to get the next smart snowball rolling is Apple’s Watch, rumoured to be released in March.