Glass leaves Google X labs, team will report to Nest CEO Tony Fadell

Google Glass is growing up. On Thursday, Google confirmed that it is planning to take its computerized eyewear product out of the experimental Google X unit. Instead Glass will be its own division, and Google Glass head Ivy Ross will report to Nest CEO Tony Fadell.

Tony Fadell is famous for contributing to the birth of the iPod at Apple. He landed at Google after the company bought Nest, his smart home startup, in 2014 for $3.2 billion. Glass isn’t joining Nest, but the team will report to Fadell — which is the biggest expansion in Fadell’s role since he joined Google.

Google is planning to stop selling Glass on January 19, 2015, which means the entire Explorer program is winding down. However, the Glass At Work program will continue.

In the short few years that Google Glass has been available, it’s clearly been a kind of beta test. Google has called its beta testers “explorers,” and with a $1500 price tag, Glass has generally been too expensive and experimental for mass consumption.

google glass angled

Google

Recently, worries about the platform’s future have led a few major developers, like Twitter, to abandon their Glass apps. Google says that a future version of Glass is on its way, possibly powered by an Intel chip. But Google didn’t provide a timeline, beyond that it will “launch when it’s ready.”

Google X is overseen by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and its offices, according to a 2013 article in Businessweek, are not on the main Google campus.

Ivy Ross took over Google Glass in May after doing marketing work for consumer brands brands like Mattel and Disney — which is a good fit for Glass as it sheds its anti-social image through partnerships with fashionable eyewear companies like Luxottica.

Here’s a video of Fadell talking to Gigaom founder Om Malik at Roadmap 2014.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPeSzx7wsNE

Sony’s smart glass uses regular glasses, aims for sports and work

Sony has announced its own take on the smart glass concept. To be formally unveiled at CES next month, the Single-Lens Display Module can be attached to existing glasses, to add a heads-up display and general smartness.

The unit clips round the back of the user’s head, attaching to each of the glasses’ temples. [company]Sony[/company] is working on a software development kit (SDK) so people can make hands-free information apps for the thing – the Japanese firm reckons it will be ideal for sports and factory work, and could even be paired with a high-quality action camera to make it easier to check the angle of view.

Although the pictures of the device that Sony released on Wednesday suggest otherwise, the module doesn’t have its own camera. Indeed, a Sony spokesman told me that the images are of a prototype and do not represent the finished product.

The camera was left out for size and weight reasons, he said. That is probably a bonus from a privacy point of view, though it also makes the unit useless for life-logging (a pointless battery-killer in my opinion) or augmented reality (the display is too small for that anyway.) There is an accelerometer and an electronic compass in there, though.

Sony said it would also say more about the unit’s communications capabilities when it releases the SDK.

Sony Single-Lens Display Module sporting images

Sony Single-Lens Display Module sporting images

The module includes a 0.23-inch OLED display with a 640×400-pixel resolution, which is slightly higher than Google Glass’s 640×360 pixels. The company said the experience will be like looking at a 16-inch display from two meters away, which means it wouldn’t impede the user’s field of vision a bit less than Google’s unit. Sony claimed its display covers 100 percent of the sRGB color space and has a 10,000:1 contrast ratio, and has at most a 0.01 millisecond response time.

There have been reports that the next generation of [company]Google[/company] Glass will also turn to OLED technology (whenever that generation appears), but depending on Sony’s schedule it looks like the Japanese company will have a higher-quality — if smaller — display on the market first.

The brains in the module come from an ARM Cortex-A7 processor, which is the energy-efficient processor architecture you’ll find in Android Wear devices. There’s a 400mAh battery (less than Google Glass’s 570mAh affair), Bluetooth 3.0 and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and the whole thing weighs around 40 grams, including the display arm and the secondary arm. That’s a couple grams lighter than Google Glass.

The proof will be in the testing — and let’s hope the finished product isn’t nearly as bulky as the prototypes — but Sony is well-regarded for its display expertise. If it gets its pricing right, this might be a good first step in Sony’s glass game.

This article was updated at 2am PT to include a couple more details about the specifications, and again at 4am PT to reflect Sony’s confirmation that the pictures it published Wednesday weren’t of the finished product.

How Europe could cut Google down to size without splitting it up

Google’s EU search antitrust case is a complex beast that is being overloaded by vested interests. Competition commission Margrethe Vestager would be best advised to keep her solutions simple, and here are some suggestions for what those solutions might entail.

Twitter’s app is no longer available for Google Glass

Twitter’s app is no longer available from the Glassware page for Google Glass, which could indicate that Twitter has decided to stop supporting the platform, or the company could be working on a new version to go with the next generation of Glass hardware.

Google Glass finally goes on sale on the US Google Play store

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 2.14.22 PM

Google Glass has arguably shed its techie-exclusive image, and people interested in Google’s computerized spectacles have been able to buy them from Google’s dedicated Glass sales site for a few months, even without an invite. You could even try and buy a pair in-person at various events such as golf tournaments. But if you’d rather spend $1,500 in the Google Play Store and have a desire to explore the frontier of wearable computing, or at least help [company]Google[/company] beta-test the devices as an “explorer,” you can now purchase Google Glass on Google Play in the United States.

Pandora lands on Google Glass

Pandora now has a dedicated Glassware app, which lets you listen to your personalized stations and give your favorite tunes the thumbs-up straight from the Google headset.