Friday, January 16, 2015
Google Without Glasses and Going to Bits
All technology has a life cycle which starts with creation, through; prototyping, adoption, adaption, development and finally obsolescence. Some make the full cycle others stumble at first base.
Today we read that the much publicised Google Glass eyewear technology is to be effectively pulled by Google in its present form. Future versions will be pursued, but by a different division and those who shelled out $1,500 (£990) will now be owners of the latest ‘Delorean’ technology, which obviously will now become a collectible novelty.
The Glass initiative was launched in the US in 2013 and UK last year, but was plagued with a number of issues. The cost was viewed by many as too high, the battery life was poor and getting consumers to adopt it and drop those features they already had on their smartphones was proving hard. Maybe the look was just wrong and screamed ‘Nerd and Geek’ at everyone brave enough to don a pair.
The other challenge was privacy and although they gave the user visual access to information in a ‘hands free environment’ they also recorded stuff ‘hands free’ which gave those running public places and those concerned with privacy, many concerns.
So will the mass take up of wearable technology happen based on peripheral devices, or will a Pranev Mistry ‘sixth sense’ approach be based on smartphone hubs prevail? Why wear a smartwatch when you can project the time onto anything or see it on the smartphone? How will wearable glasses take a selfie? Voice and audio are already here today on every smartphone so that only leaves smell and touch.
Google has dismantled the smartphone and are to introduced a modular phone which allows consumers to buy functionality in a firmware ‘pick and mix’ fashion.
You want a camera you can select potentially one of a number of specifications and literally plug it onto the smartphone. You want different speakers, batteries, displays, application processor, wireless connectivity, blood-sugar monitors, laser pointers, pico projectors, they all just plug onto the phone and will be held into the shell by magnets. Its like selecting your firmware options and is aimed both at giving the consumer choice but also at making upgrading potentially very different.
Google claim that the objective is to make a smartphone more attractive to the five billion people that currently don’t own one. It would also prolong the life of many phones and potentially that has a big market challenge when the current life of a phone model is two years. However, by changing the emphasis from model to module it may differentiate Google from their rivals
Google has chosen Puerto Rico to launch its modular offer. Puerto Rico was "mobile-first" with some 75% of its internet access being via mobile devices. There are also more than three million mobile phones in use in the country. Google also benefits as the country is under US Federal Communications Commission jurisdiction and this obviates any later issues getting a solution into the US market.
So the role of the smartphone is strengthened and ways to offer choice are now being developed. We can’t help wonder how much some would pay to have their own module for Prime users?