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July 31, 2015

Google sneaks Glass through business market

Enterprise launch may assuage privacy concerns.

By Alexander Sword

Google is distributing a version of Google Glass aimed specifically at business, particularly industries such as healthcare, manufacturing and energy.

The latest version of Google’s wearable has been redesigned without the original’s wire-like frame. It has a button-and-hinge system that allows the mini-computer to different glasses.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a new consumer version of Glass is a year or more away.

Google’s attempt to target the business market instead of the consumer market taps into industry’s tendency to lead in wearable adoption. According to Ranjit Atwal, Research Director at Gartner comments:

"[Wearables] are being used in healthcare especially. In the police they are using webcams to monitor; they can turn them on when they are dealing with incidents.

"There are definitely protocols there, even in mainstream businesses in working out what people are doing on the campus."

Atwal argues that in a business context, the usual concerns about user privacy would be resolved by the company’s policies.

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"There are issues with interference and privacy. With authorised use, as it would be in the professional market, there are a lot of cases where it would be appropriate.

Google’s strategy of launching the device through the business rather than consumer market differs from the usual end user-driven mobility market. According to Atwal, however, new technology being trialled in an enterprise setting is nothing new.

"IT was always leading with, for example, the internet. Only more recently has that turned around.

"People are now more aware of security aspects. On the business side, they are trying to deal with security issues. Cloud is a lot more prevalent in business and usable."

Atwal argued that transitioning Glass from the business market to the consumer one would still face significant obstacles.

"There’s still a barrier. When someone’s taking a photo, you know. If you don’t want to be in the photo you can get out.

"It is social issues that prevent the type of usage. There are nefarious ways this can be used; people are very mindful of this."

The news comes more than six months after Google halted production of its smartglass prototype, terminating the Explorer programme which had allowed software developers to buy Glass for $1500.

In March, Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt claimed in a Wall Street Journal interview that the platform had not been shelved.

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