Google Glass takes on Microsoft HoloLens with new augmented reality eyewear for businesses

The next-generation Google Glass. (Google Photo)

Google is challenging Microsoft’s HoloLens with a new version of its Glass augmented reality eyewear targeted at businesses, continuing a transition started two years ago for the device.

Google today announced the second-generation Glass Enterprise Edition for workers on the factory floor or out in the field. The company says the new version of Glass has better battery life, an enhanced camera and more new features over the previous model.

With an MSRP of $999, Glass is significantly less expensive than the new $3,500 Microsoft HoloLens 2 Development Edition. Google said it will sell the devices through a network of partners but did not give a release date. Partners may offer a variety of pricing plans for the device, including one-time fees as well as subscription options.

Google and Microsoft have both eschewed the consumer market for augmented and virtual reality and instead are focusing on helping people work more efficiently in industries like construction, logistics and manufacturing. The devices give workers the ability to project images of blueprints, manuals and other important documents on top of the real world so they can easily refer to them while working on complex projects.

Google targeted consumers with the initial iteration of Glass, first announced in 2012. By 2015, Google was no longer selling Glass to consumers, following a shaky and divisive roll out. 

However, Google promised to continue developing the device and in 2017 rebooted Glass with a focus on the enterprise. The new device announced today runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 platform, giving it a more powerful core and artificial intelligence engine than its predecessor.

The look of the device, which more closely resembles typical glasses than the consumer-focused original, is largely unchanged from the first generation of Google Glass for businesses released two years ago.

Google wouldn’t say how many companies use Glass, but customers include AGCO, Deutsche Post DHL Group, Sutter Health, and H.B. Fuller. Work on Glass has shifted from X, parent company Alphabet’s division dedicated to working on “moonshot” projects, to Google in order to scale enterprise efforts for the device.