One of Google's biggest flops returns to the enterprise

Key Points
  • Google parent company Alphabet just unveiled an enterprise version of Google Glass.
  • Developers are already licensing the smart glasses technology for business-focused applications.
  • This is the first time in years the company has publicly talked about its plans for Glass.
Alphabet's Glass being used in manufacturing

Google parent company Alphabet has officially launched the "Enterprise Edition" of its smart glasses hardware, which is now available to a network of Google partners.

The company's developer partners range from logistics and manufacturing to patient care. These apps have long-been involved with the product formerly known as Google Glass through the business-focused "Glass at Work" program.

In a blog post Tuesday, Glass project leader Jay Kothari said partners such as GE Aviation, AGCO, DHL, Dignity Health, NSF International, Sutter Health, Boeing and Volkswagen have been using Glass over the past several years, and make up just a sampling of 50 companies using the wearable.

Wired said several of these companies found the original Google Glass to be very useful in factories and other enterprise environments. Google discovered this and began work on a product built by a team dedicated to building a new version of Glass for the enterprise.

According to Kothari, the Glass Enterprise Edition glasses are lighter and more "comfortable for long term wear." They also offer more power and longer battery life and, offer support for folks with prescription lenses, Wired said. The glasses, too, are stronger and do double duty as safety glasses.

Folks who disliked the first version of Glass because of privacy concerns will also be pleased to learn that this model, which has an upgraded 8-megapixel, has a red light that glows when the camera is recording.

Google initially unveiled the device with much fanfare in 2012, but it failed to catch on with consumers. Where it did succeed is with professionals, like field workers and doctors, who use the device to record information without needing to use their hands. As an example, an app called Augmedix uses Glass to help doctors transcribe notes from patient interactions.

"Now the Glass product team is back at X, and we'll be collaborating with the Google Cloud team and our partners to help customers across a variety of business sectors make the most of Glass," Kothari said. "Together, we're looking forward to seeing more businesses give their workers a way to work faster and in a more focused way, hands-free."

Correction: The new product is called simply "Glass," and is overseen by the X business unit, which is part of Alphabet's "Other Bets" and is not part of Google.