Google halts sales on Google Glass – what does it mean to the special needs community?

CC BY-NC-ND by Ted Eytan

CC BY-NC-ND by Ted Eytan

The Wall Street Journal was first to report Google Inc. is halting individual sales of its wearable Glass yesterday.  This was quickly followed by others, especially technology reporters. The product, Google Glass, while first talked about and unveiled back in 2012, never had an official launch or a marketing strategy.  It was also costly at around $1,500 and ended up with some serious image issues.

All that aside, those in the special needs and autism community had high hopes for Google Glass. Some hailed it as a “dream come true”.  We at Autism Daily Newscast reported on the possibilities for software associated with Google Glass on more than one occasion.

Even as of this week, news articles were discussing the potential benefits for those on the autism spectrum.

Reported in the Houston News, autism awareness advocate Paul Louden was identified as,

was one of only 8,000 individuals – and 2,000 developers – selected worldwide for the first testing of the Google Glass Explorer program outside Google’s laboratory control. Louden, a techie at heart, believes that Google Glass could benefit those with autism or similar disorders.”

And over at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, Natasha Jaques a recent grad from University of British Columbia, is currently studying for her PhD and wants to develop software that will help those on the autism spectrum recognize facial expressions.

Jaques says:

“It helps them out by making explicit certain social cues that the person might be expressing. So, if the person seems really bored, then the Glass would tell them that and it would give them this extra leg up to help with the conversation.”

MIT projects are funded by external corporations and we only hope that Jaques research continues to get the resources needed.

The buzz that is resonating within the technology industry is that this is not the end of Google Glass, but rather  a re-positioning of the product. Whether Google Glass as a product is commercially viable is something that only time will tell. However, what is certain is that the potential for this product to be able to assist those individuals with special needs is huge and we hope that it will return to the market in a timely manner.

Editor’s Note: Shortly after we went to publication, Arshya Vahabzadeh M.D. VP, Health Strategy and Communications, from Brain-Power wrote to us to say,

“A lot of the negative media coverage has many people disheartened when they don’t need to be!

Our founder, Dr Ned Sahin, has been well aware of many developments and future plans at Google, and with that knowledge remains confident in being able to carry out our mission to help autism families worldwide with software and hardware built for Google Glass – current and improved versions.”

Brain-Power is the prominent group pioneering the development of autism software for Google Glass. While they do not treat or cure a disease nor provide medical diagnosis or therapy, they do offer personal empowerment products that provide useful information and coaching to people who use them. Products are based on neuroscience innovations and technological advances from Harvard and MIT.

Sources:
Wall Street Journal Google Inc. is halting individual sales of its wearable Glass
Mashable: First Version of Google Glass Discontinued
NPR: Google Glass Phase 1 is officially over
LeaderPost:   U of R grad’s studies utilize Google Glass | Video
Houston News: Parents of autistic children can benefit from tuning in to new radio resource