Google Glass may not be limited to eyeglasses anymore.
The team working on Glass — the futuristic and oft-maligned head-mounted computer — is now focused on developing “smart eyewear and other related products,” according to several job postings on Google’s website.
The description signals a potential expansion of the Glass team’s efforts and suggests that Google may now envision Glass as a family of assorted wearable products, rather than the single, eyeglass-mounted electronic device that has struggled to catch on with consumers.
Google appears to be ramping up hiring for the Glass group. In recent weeks, the company has posted several job listing ads for the Glass team, including an Audio Hardware Manager, a Human Factors Designer, an RF Systems Engineer and a Hardware Automation Engineer (Manufacturing).
Google stopped selling the initial $US1,500 version of Glass to consumers in January, following waning interest among consumers and developers and widespread concerns about the product’s potential to infringe on privacy (Glass’ built-in video camera led to wearers of the device being labelled “Glassholes.”). Google executives noted that it was time for a “pause” and “strategy reset,” although Google continues to sell Glass to businesses involved in industries like healthcare and manufacturing.
The team developing Glass was moved out of the Google X labs and assigned to the Nest electronic appliances division under the purview of Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive credited with hit products like the iPod.
Google has said it is working on a new version of Glass for consumers, but has provided not details or timeframe for release.
But the job postings are instructive. The Human Factors Designer listing cites job responsibilities such as drawing “from the field of human factors to inform design direction. Conduct research in human factors and related fields such as anthropometry, ergonomics, biomechanics, etc.”
It also says the person in the position will “work with researchers to oversee user studies as they collect and analyse user behaviour through server logs, online experiments, benchmark studies, lab studies, surveys, ethnographic research and other relevant methods.”
The Audio Hardware Manager is expected to “lead the development and execution of audio hardware solutions in new products and concepts.”
And here’s the intriguing new description for the Glass team that was included in many of the ads: “The Google Glass division is a world-class team focused on the cutting edge of hardware, software and industrial design. It is charged with pioneering, developing, building and launching smart eyewear and other related products in line with Google’s ambitious and visionary objectives.”
Google declined to comment for this story.