Google said to be trying out new version of Glass for workplace

The search giant has made tweaks to its smart eyewear as it pitches the device to the enterprise. One change: Workers will be able to attach the device to an existing pair of glasses.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
2 min read

Google is reportedly pitching a new version of Glass aimed at the workplace. Sarah Tew/CNET

Google Glass has officially been on hiatus since January, as the company tries to find new ways to get consumers hooked on the search giant's smart eyewear. In the meantime, the company is courting a market more likely to respond better to the product: the workplace.

Google has been distributing a new version of Glass to companies, engineered specifically for workplaces in sectors including health care, manufacturing and energy, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The device will look different from the original Glass, which cost $1,500, according to the report. Instead of having a built-in frame, the new version will have a hinge on it that attaches the device to another pair of glasses. The workplace version will also have a battery pack and longer prism -- which is how a wearer sees digital images and graphics overlaid on top of what that person usually sees.

Google declined to comment.

Glass was originally unveiled in 2012 by Google co-founder Sergey Brin with much fanfare, but the hype quickly died as the device became a lightning rod for controversy. Glass, with its built-in camera, became a target for detractors who felt their privacy was being violated. Others simply disliked the device because they thought it looked nerdy.

With the enterprise version, Google hopes to sidesteps the privacy and fashion concerns, since those things tend to be less of an issue in a workplace environment. (For example, a construction worker might not worry about how Glass looks with his or her hard hat ensemble.)

Even though Google "paused" the program in January, it never stopped courting the workplace. Since January 2014, the company has specifically tried to persuade employers to use Glass in the workplace with a program called Glass at Work, complete with outreach to convince app makers to continue making programs for the device. For example, the company tested an app with Taco Bell to assist its employees in assembling menu items.

There have been setbacks. Chris O'Neill, Glass's business chief and head of the Glass at Work program, has left Google to become the CEO at productivity software company Evernote. Google has also made several other changes to the Glass team.

This past January, the company handed the reins of the project to Tony Fadell, co-founder of Nest, the smart home company Google acquired last year. Fadell is a former Apple executive and hardware guru that played key roles in the development of Apple's iPod and iPhone.