As we’ve come to learn more about the next iteration of Google Glass, it’s clear that this device isn’t the “Google Glass 2.0″ that many diehard fans of the product — however many there are — have been longing for. Google Glass “Enterprise Edition” or “EE,” as the company is referring to it internally, is rather a spinoff of the Explorer Edition and an incremental revision targeted at the workplace. Google is ditching the fashion runways and #throughGlass pictures — and they’re getting into the enterprise where Glass has practical use cases.
And with that, Tony Fadell and company had to deeply consider with EE how the device looks, works, and functions. We’re familiar with multiple prototypes that are nearing the final stages of revision, and one thing is very clear: This isn’t going to be a drastic departure visually from the Explorer Edition. It has been tweaked, though, and there are at least a few differences noticeable from the outside. It folds like a regular pair of glasses, and because it’s first and foremost being built for the workplace, it has a more rugged build and appearance…
If you weren’t in the Explorer Program, you might not even notice that it’s a different Glass. It has all of the computer hardware along the right side just as XE did, and a prism that sits in front of the right eye. The device, similar to the Explorer Edition, has a band that stretches around the forehead, going back around the left ear. What’s most obviously new at first glance is a robust hinge mechanism that allows the computer and battery modules to fold down like a regular pair of glasses, and a hinge for folding down the left side of the band as well.
The overall design of the computer side is more robust as well, built to withstand normal drops and bumps that could occur in less-than-ideal workplace environments. Sources have also said that the device is more water resistant, built with fewer places for water and other outside material to seep in. And, as to be expected from a device built for the workplace, Google has tweaked its visual aesthetic to better fit in a factory or a hospital than on a runway. It’s practical and industrial, with a focus on function over fashion.
Recently, we told you that there are some internal changes coming as well. According to the same sources familiar with prototypes of the device nearing final, the Enterprise Edition includes a larger prism display for a better viewing experience, an Intel Atom processor that brings better performance, moderately improved battery life, and better heat management. These are all important upgrades over the Explorer Edition, which suffered from incredibly short battery life, heat problems, and lackluster performance.
From what people familiar with the company’s most recent plans have told 9to5Google, the Mountain View company is currently planning to distribute the device exclusively through its certified set of Glass for Work partners. This would mean no retail availability or marketing at all and in turn no announced retail pricing — which is a stark contrast to the Explorer Edition. Astro Teller said in an interview at SXSW earlier this year that their misleading marketing pitting the XE as a consumer product was one of their big mistakes.
A few weeks ago, a device named “A4R-GG1″ was seen passing through the FCC. That device showed evidence of support for 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi on both 2.4GHz and 5 GHz bands, a feature we’ve confirmed ourselves is also included in revisions of Google Glass Enterprise Edition that are nearing final production. Considering the device is being built with the Glass for Work groups in mind, 5 GHz support was almost certainly added to benefit the Glass video streaming applications so widely used in the workplace.
(Image via Google)
Update: A previous version of this article claimed that the device would have “fewer buttons and ports,” but the wording has been updated to reflect that it in truth will have fewer openings and tighter buttons to close off areas where liquid could otherwise seep into the device.