Google opens its latest Google Glass AR headset for direct purchase
Google is making its latest augmented reality headset, Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2, available for direct purchase, nearly a year after launching it through select workplace partners for $999 a unit. The price remains the same (or slightly more if you get the Glass “pod” attached to a band), but Google says you no longer have to go through a “solution provider” to purchase one.
That’s especially helpful for developers who may want to tinker with Google’s heads-up display and haven’t been able to easily do so since the device’s initial, ill-fated “Explorer Edition” launch way back in 2014.
Again, this is an enterprise product, so it’s not designed for everyday consumer use. It’s primarily for jobs in construction and on factory floors as well as in the medical field and other disciplines that can make use of a simpler heads-up display and that don’t (yet) require something like a full-blown mixed reality device like Microsoft HoloLens.
“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,” Jay Kothari, the Google Glass project lead, writes in a blog post published on Tuesday. “In order to make it easier for them to start working with Glass, they can now purchase devices directly from one of our hardware resellers, such as CDW, Mobile Advance or SHI.”
This is the second iteration of Google’s AR headset for the workplace, not to be confused with the original Google Glass device that went on sale for $1,500 six years ago. That device never materialized into a full-blown consumer product, after concerns over its viability as an actual computing platform and criticism over its design and public recording capabilities made it a symbol of unwanted Silicon Valley excess.
But thanks in part to substantial growth in the AR market over the last few years, pushed along by competitors like HoloLens and mobile AR technologies like Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore, Glass found a second life in 2017 as a workplace tool.
The second-generation model came out in May 2019 with a better processor and camera as well as a USB-C port and other minor updates to its components and its design. It still features the signature translucent prism through which you view the heads-up display with your right or left eye, and it’s designed to be affixed to the arm of a pair of eyeglasses. That way, it can be more easily worn in a setting where a worker requires eye protection or by a professional who requires prescription glasses to do any work.
“Glass Enterprise Edition 2 is built on Android, so it’s easy for developers to work with, and for businesses to integrate the services and APIs (application programming interfaces) they already use,” explains Kothari. “We’ve also shared new open source applications and code samples, including sample layouts and UI components that may be helpful examples for those just getting started developing for Glass.”