astro teller

Google Glass may seem to be essentially on the brink of death, but Google focusing on Android Wear for the time being doesn’t necessarily mean that the Mountain View company is done pursuing the area of smart glasses. In fact, Google’s Eric Schmidt recently said that it plans to bring Glass—described as if it’s going to see some kind of 2.0 rebirth—to the consumer market “soon,” but only “when it works.”

Google Glass has most definitely had a hard time capturing the imagination of the public (and the government), been met with countless criticisms thanks to its privacy implications, and generally created an image around itself that has made the device in its current form rather socially unacceptable to wear. But all this aside, Google X “moonshot” head Astro Teller says that it’s only a matter of time before glasses are the portal to our digital world.

Kyle Russel of TechCrunch had a chance to sit down with Teller last month, and he said some very bold things about the future of wearables, the killer app that they oh-so desperately need, and the projects Google is working on in this area.

Teller spent a lot of time talking about the fact that wearables simply don’t yet have a killer app—something that make these multi-purpose wearables like Android Wear and Google Glass a purchase that makes sense for most people.

“VisiCalc and WordPerfect were the killer apps of their day, but Google and Facebook make them look small in comparison,” he said, suggesting that equivalent killer apps haven’t yet made it to wearables. He believes that it’s not these killer apps alone that will make wearables take off, but rather the bigger ideas that spawn from them.

What could those kinds of things be? Fitness is the most obvious answer, but devices that allow us to be more in sync with our environment and connect us securely to the digital world could be just as important:

I think wearables in general have as their best calling, to better understand our current state and needs and to express those back to the world. It’s crazy that you have to tell your phone or your computer or your house or your car “It’s me!” hundreds of times a day. Wearables will solve that problem. They haven’t yet, but they will.

One of the most important and bold quotes that came from this interview, though, is something that Teller didn’t feel the need to spend much time elaborating on. He stands behind Glass despite its rocky start, saying “There’s about a 0% chance that in 10-20 years we don’t access our digital world through our glasses, but I would be shocked if we don’t also have watches.” Google Glass isn’t going anywhere, in Teller’s mind at least.

Even if in the future Google’s entry into this space isn’t Glass, Teller would apparently be shocked if smart glasses weren’t the future—and equally as shocked if we don’t have watches as well.

That’s a bold stance, and one that should maybe reshape how we see Glass. It’s important to note that Teller didn’t say that this is coming in 3 years, 5 years, or even 8 years (but they definitely could). One to two decades away is a fairly long distance prediction. Smartphones, as we all know pretty well, aren’t going anywhere for a while. But a decade from now, Glass and technology like it (read: Google’s contact lens project) seem to be the obvious next step. On the other hand, former head of Glass Babak Parviz seems to feel much less strongly about wearables.

(Image via Flickr)

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About the Author

Stephen Hall

Stephen is Growth Director at 9to5. If you want to get in touch, follow me on Twitter. Or, email at stephen (at) 9to5mac (dot) com, or an encrypted email at hallstephenj (at) protonmail (dot) com.