TECH

Google Glass Experiment Finished, Nest Chief Exec Tony Fadell Takes Over

15/01/2015 18:37 GMT | Updated 16/01/2015 11:59 GMT

Google has decided to call time on the current form of its experimental 'Glass' wearable computer.

The 'Explorer Edition' of the heads-up display will be discontinued the BBC has reported and not launched as a consumer product. Orders will cease from next week, though the search giant said it will continue to support companies trialing the idea.

Google also insists it is committed to the idea as a concept, the BBC said, and will focus on new versions of the technology.

The company will move the product out from its 'X' experimental incubator and under Tony Fadell, chief exec of its home automation business Nest that it bought in 2014. Current Glass lead Ivy Ross will retain day-to-day control of the product -- whatever it turns out to be.

google glass

Fadell told the BBC that Glass had "broken ground and allowed us to learn what's important to consumers and enterprises alike" and he was excited to be working with the team "to integrate those learnings into future products".

Google launched Glass to much fanfare in 2013, with a spectacular press conference. Last year it held a large-scale press event in the UK to offer the glasses for sale at £1000 a pair, with optional extras like fashionable frames and lenses for use during sport.

But while tech publications and figures including US blogger John Scoble took to the idea, it failed to win mainstream support -- becoming known more for various controversies involving where and when the glasses were appropriate to wear (and whether they represented an invasion of privacy).

Despite those issues wearable tech as a whole has grown in importance with the (slow but steady) rise of smartwatches and fitness trackers. Doubtless Google aims to add to the momentum of that revolution with its next evolution of Glass - whatever that turns out to be. It remains to be seen if the next version of Glass will be a full product based on the wearable screen concept, or perhaps something else entirely.

As I wrote last year:

"Google is a company built out of algorithms, generated by human minds and processed and learned and honed by machines. The difference in the case of Glass, is that the algorithm that needs to be refined is not maths - it's us. Google needs to learn what form this product should take. How it will be used and accepted, and where the borders can be pushed. Google Glass is a great idea. The Explorer programme will help realise it in the real world.

The smartphone revolution is complete, but - as ever in human history - there are new horizons to explore. Glass is one of those boundaries. VR is another. Electric vehicles are another. Isn't that, surely, something to celebrate? Let's embrace them, criticise them, refine them. But let's not dismiss them. Let's instead take Google's advice, and try it - and see."