When the world got its first glimpse of what Google Glass would be like, it was through the eyes of an imaginary guy wandering around New York City, buying books, making phone calls and meeting friends, all with the aid of augmented reality.
It's looking like that won't be what Glass looks like, at least not for most users.
Earlier this year, Google announced an initiative called Glass for Work that enlisted five certified developers of Google Glass apps for enterprise. One of these developers, CrowdOptic, gained positive attention after surgeons successfully incorporated their Google Glass app in 19 U.S. hospitals. Following this success, the list of Glass for Work developers doubled in October.
Now, a wide variety of companies like BMW, Boeing, HP and Taco Bell have partnered with certified Glass for Work developers to create apps suitable for their individual business needs. BMW uses Google Glass for quality assurance, Boeing has engineers using it on the airplane assembly line and Taco Bell uses Google Glass to train new employees on how to heat up a burrito. Some small businesses have also found benefits from having Glass-equipped employees.
This embrace of Google Glass in the workplace comes in the midsts of reports that some Glass developers have begun to shift focus, opting for creating entreprise apps instead of consumer apps. Reuters reported that investors and developers are not sure that Glass will become a widely-adopted consumer product, citing the tepid response from the marketplace (you can currently buy Google Glass for half its retail price on eBay), and the backlash that the beta "Explorers" have received from wearing the device in public.
This only makes the enterprise opportunities that more appealing. Entrepreneur Alex Foster launched See Through, a Glass analytics firm for businesses, after his consumer fitness app for Glass lost funding.
"It was devastating," Foster told Reuters. "All of the consumer Glass startups are either completely dead or have pivoted."
Google remains strongly commited to making Glass a consumer product, according Anna Richardson White, head of communications for Google Glass, and Google for Work is actually a vital part of that strategy.
"Employees are still consumers," White told Inc. "Just think about computers when they first came out. You had to go into the office to use one, and now everyone owns one."
Last week, Google announced its 100th consumer app for Glass, which includes apps from prominent companies like Facebook and OpenTable. An impressive number, says White, considering that currently only 10,000 "Explorers" have access to Google Glass, and the product does not yet have have an official launch date.