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Google Glass Gets A Reboot

Google ends its Glass developer program as it gears up for a consumer launch.

Posted on January 15, 2015, at 3:40 p.m. ET

HELSINKI, FINLAND - DECEMBER 01: A guest uses a Google glass during the Eurobest festival of creativity at Finlandia Hall on December 1, 2014 in Helsinki, Finland. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for Eurobest)
Getty Images for Eurobest Andreas Rentz

HELSINKI, FINLAND - DECEMBER 01: A guest uses a Google glass during the Eurobest festival of creativity at Finlandia Hall on December 1, 2014 in Helsinki, Finland. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for Eurobest)

The Google Glass the world knows and never really loved is going away, at least in its current iteration. Google announced both a restructuring and a change in leadership today. Google announced today that Glass is being moved out of Google's experimental Google X labs to be a stand-alone product.

Glass will continue to be run by Ivy Ross, but will also be overseen by Tony Fadell, who runs Google's hit hardware line of Nest devices. The Google Glass Explorer program will also be ending on Jan. 19. All of these developments indicate that Google plans to take Glass in a more consumer-friendly direction.

Glass is expected to see a rerelease this year, and the combination of Ross and Fadell at the helm suggests that the basic look and function of the hardware could see significant changes, given their design-facing backgrounds. Ross, an artist and designer with product experience at companies as varied as Gap, Mattel, and Bausch & Lomb, was tapped to run Glass last May. In addition to creating the Nest line, Fadell was the designer of the original iPod.

All of which indicates Google has learned lessons from its experiments with the disastrous Explorer launch, its widely publicized development phase, which began in 2013. By selecting brand ambassadors along with a high price point, Google alienated the broader public and created a product that became an easy-to-hate punching bag, increasing the stigma that comes with putting a computer on your face.

After the company failed to address the future of Glass during the keynote of its last developers conference in June 2014, there was much speculation that it intended to kill off the troubled product. However, these changes make it clear that Glass is still very much on Google's agenda. Ross and Fadell have a history of designing great products, so we can expect them to address the fundamental problems with Glass — it looked weird, and no one knew what it was for. It's likely that they will retool the product, and release it as a finished project.

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