Google Glass is not dead, despite increasing reports to the contrary. In fact, Google is planning to release a second-generation version of its smart eyeglasses and has reportedly partnered with Intel to provide the silicon brains for it.
The Wall Street Journal cites people familiar with the matter who say Google has sealed the deal with the semiconductor manufacturer to supply the system on a chip (SoC) for Google Glass 2.0. Intel will replace Texas Instruments, which closed up shop for its smartphone business and halted support for many of its products, including the OMAP 4430 SoC powering the current version of Glass.
With Intel supplying the brains, insiders say Google Glass hopes to push further into the health care, manufacturing and construction industries, where workers require quick access to information without needing to take out a computer or a smartphone because they need to work with their hands. Currently, Google has a program called Glass at Work, which is a partnership with software developers Augmedix and APX Labs that aims to build Glass inroads in business.
Still, Google continues to see Glass as a consumer device first and a business tool second. Eric Johnsen, a former Google employee now vice president of software company APX Labs, which makes Glass software used in the oil field, manufacturing and logistics industries, says Google is not likely to change its focus for the smart eyewear.
"We expect Glass to evolve and be more useful for companies, but it will still be a crossover device for consumers," Johnsen says.
He also expects that the new Google Glass will feature a better battery to hook in both consumer and business users alike. Battery life on the current version of Glass clocks in at around a day for normal use, and less than that for heavy users. However, users report dismal battery life after Google pushed an over-the-air update for Android KitKat, with many users calling KitKat the death of Google Glass and others reporting that their eyewear have become unusable since then.
The report does not specify what chip Intel will be providing to Google Glass, but it will hopefully provide better performance than the Texas Instruments processor. This isn't the first Google device to run on an Intel chip. The Nexus player is powered by Intel's Atom chips and Google's self-driving cars run on Xeon SoCs.
"For wearables like Glass, the processor has to be lower power because the batteries have to be so small," says Al Cowsky, analyst at Teardown.com, which examined Google Glass under the hood earlier this year.
Intel is trying to make up for the massive losses incurred when it missed mobile, while chipmaker Qualcomm effectively took over the smartphone and tablet market with its line of Snapdragon processors. Intel is not about to make the same mistake in wearables this time, building a tiny x86 processor for wearables called Quark and a special circuit board called Edison. It also acquired fitness tracker maker Basis Science and has teamed up with rapper 50 Cent's SMS Audio to build smart headphones and Taiwan's AIQ to create a smart shirt.
Recently, Intel introduced a new smart bracelet called MICA, a fashion-forward wrist communication device designed for women who are put off by the male-centric designs of most smartwatches in the market today.