Virtual and augmented reality has had no shortage of new products in the last decade. From HTC and Sony to Oculus and Huawei, tech firms have rushed to get in on the act. Google hasn’t been immune to this new wave of tech and that won’t be changing any time soon. The company has announced its newest foray into the world of VR and AR. But will Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 succeed where other products haven’t?
We’re hardly living in the VR-dominated future many had predicted. The majority of people aren’t spending days and weeks plugged into their devices. Statista estimates that around six million virtual reality headsets will be sold in 2019. That’s a marked increase from last year but hardly a global phenomenon.
Ask most and they will agree that the number one use for virtual reality is gaming. PlayStation VR has sold over four million units since its 2016 launch. Sony’s flagship wearable tech continues to thrive with some big-name titles. Marvel collaborated to create Iron Man VR, a 2018 game which offers a glimpse inside Tony Stark’s helmet.But there are far more companies than Sony and Marvel getting involved. The Facebook-owned Oculus has released its new gaming VR headset. The Oculus Quest comes complete with two handheld controllers and a catalogue of games. But VR is also attracting companies which are not from traditional gaming backgrounds. Betway has utilised VR for its online casino to create an immersive experience.
But VR and AR are about far more than gaming. Google Glass is proof of that with marketing geared more towards commercial application. Some of the tech’s uses are obvious but others are less so.
“Innovation is critical to healthcare,” explains Dr Albert Chan in the promotional video for Google’s new headset.
“We have a tremendous opportunity to make it better for our patients. And solutions like Glass help us do that.”
The video shows Chan using the headset on the job. He holds a conversation while browsing the patient’s medical history. The headset is also recording the visit to save for future reference and save the doctor some time.
Surprisingly, healthcare is one of the sectors benefiting most from the technology. The applications are broad. 3D visualisation can help diagnosis but VR is also used in treatment. There are many examples of the technology utilised to treat mental health issues like phobias in a manageable setting. But there are also uses in medical training. The technology can help budding surgeons with companies like Osso VR offering a range of services.
These uses can help a whole range of other industries. From pilots to train drivers, VR can help train people to deal with difficult situations. This extends to other sectors like engineering and even architecture.
This is where the Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 comes in. The new headset from the company targets these kinds of consumers. For the first time, this Glass headset is built on Android with a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1. This drastically beefs up the processing power on a headset with a better camera. The Glass Enterprise 2 has added a USB-C port for faster charging and longer battery life.
No price is yet offered for the headset but reports estimate around the $999 mark. Prospective customers can make an enquiry for the Glass Enterprise 2. There’s a feeling that the product will depend on the purpose. Google has even partnered with Smith Optics to ensure the frames can adapt to different environments. This is not a consumer toy and instead, is a costly piece of specialised hardware.
It’s a long way from the marketing for Google Glass back in 2012. An early showed an ordinary consumer going about their day. They checked messages, took photographs, and got GPS navigation through their headset. The initial product failed for many reasons. Aside from the eye-watering $1,500 price tag, there seemed little practical use for the headset. It was unattractive and the software unreliable.
A lot of that has changed during the various iterations of Google Glass. This new Enterprise Edition is more appealing to look at and its uses vary depending on the user. Android and the new CPU will improve the product on a technical level and allow customisation. It seems that Google has found its niche for wearable tech in the private sector.