Google has made its Glass device available to any consumer with $1500 burning a hole in their pocket. But winning over the general consumer is proving to be a more difficult challenge than customers in niche work environments. Perhaps the most important and lucrative area of initial market penetration is the medical sector.
Already many physicians, surgeons and medical students have used Google Glass in different "Explorer Programs" sponsored by early adopters of Glass. Many of these programs feature telemedicine applications by using the cam in Glass to transmit images of the patient or a medical procedure to a remote specialist.
In the latest news, CrowdOptics will offer its technology made for Glass to the Stanford University Medical Center's Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery. Cardiology residents will learn how to perform surgeries with the technology, which enables Google Glass wearers the ability to see what other wearers are seeing.
CrowdOptics was designated a Glass at Work partner by Google certification earlier this summer. In a released statement, CrowdOptics said, "The hope with this technology is that it will offer a paradigm shift in surgical training, especially in the highly complex area of cardiothoracic training, where a major challenge is creating an environment in which an attending surgeon can provide direct visual feedback to residents conducting operations."
Other Glass at Work partners, including Augmedix, are also introducing important technologies such as HIPAA-compliant access to patient records through Glass. Beyond the Glass at Work program, a British surgeon has streamed a surgery via Google Glass. Separately, UC Irvine School of Medicine students have been issued Glass as part of their medical education.
When used by deskless workers like doctors, the advantages of Glass become much clearer than they do for general consumers. It remains to be seen if eye wearable technology has significant advantages over handhelds for the public. Workers in several other markets stand to adopt Glass before the general consumer, including emergency workers like paramedics, first responders like policemen and firemen, enterprise workers like warehouse inventory specialists, military personnel like bomb diffusing engineers.
From these verticals, the technology around Glass and advantages of the device may become more clear. Then and only then might the price come down, the naysayers put a sock in it and the critical mass be achieved for Google to establish Glass as a legitimate consumer product that wins market share from handheld devices.