Google announced this week that it was ending its Google Glass Explorer program and moving its Glass unit out of Google X into a standalone division within the company. As they go back to the drawing board, no plans for future device releases have been announced.
Since the announcement of the Explorer program, there has been enthusiastic uptake in healthcare with clinicians and educators testing it out in a variety of applications. Pristine.io built its EyeSight telemedicine and education platform around Google Glass. Dr. Warren Wiechmann at the UC Irvine School of Medicine recently described to us how they are using Google Glass in their medical education curriculum. We also saw examples of Glass being used in procedures and operating rooms.
Details are somewhat scant about what this means for the future of the Google Glass platform. According to Google, this is the planned end of a “beta” phase and they are now going back to the drawing board to apply lessons learned through the Explorer program. Others have been more skeptical, highlighting the shortcomings of Glass when it comes to use in day to day life.
According to TechCrunch, sales for enterprise (which includes healthcare) use will continue.
The company will, however, continue to sell to businesses, developers, and educational institutions and plans to invest in Glass at Work for enterprise developers and companies going forward.
Over the past several months, we’ve seen some interesting applications of Glass in healthcare. In our hands-on experience trying out Glass in a variety of clinical settings, there were a number of use cases where Glass seemed to be useful such as in the field, emergency settings, and in procedures/surgery.
But while much of the attention has been focused on Google, it’s worth recalling that what we’re talking about is the technology and less so the specific brand of device. And we’ve seen others take some interesting approaches to wearable smart glasses; Atheer’s smart glasses not only provide a heads up display, but also provide gesture recognition, letting you interact with what you’re seeing.
So whatever ends up happening with Glass, Google’s venture seems to have sparked some interesting experiments in the use of wearables in healthcare that are probably just the beginning.