It could be years before Google Glass is ready for European release

19 Sep 2013

Reports from covert meetings around Europe to show off Google Glass to select journalists and key decision-makers reveal it could be years before Europeans start turning into ‘Glassholes’.

Google Glass, the heads-up display worn like a pair of glasses, is undergoing slow roll out in the US, starting off with the Glass Explorer Programme. There are 2,000 developers and 8,000 ‘explorers’ in the US trialling the device as part of the pilot programme, and a public release is expected in 2014.

Glass-coveters in Europe will likely have much longer to wait, though. Teams from Google’s Glass programme this week held meetings in European Parliament offices in Brussels, as well as in Cologne, Germany, and at the company’s EMEA headquarters in Dublin. Journalists were invited to attend and check out the device, though quotes from Google employees and reviews on Glass works were not permitted.

Privacy and road safety concerns

In Brussels, law-makers were also present at the event, in order to assess a device that could pose many issues in terms of privacy and road safety. To release Glass in Europe, Google first needs to deal with numerous bodies and authorities in various countries to address these concerns.

Attendees at the Brussels meeting from both The Wall Street Journal and European news site EurActiv certainly think this could take years to be resolved.

OK, Glass, why can’t you understand me?

According to The Wall Street Journal Real Time Brussels blog, another issue for Europe would be voice recognition. Glass is largely promoted as a hands-free voice-controlled device with commands starting with a simple, “OK, Glass.” However, current devices built to interpret American-English apparently have difficulty when it comes to accents. This will be tricky enough to address in America, thanks to a multicultural population, but once entry to the European market comes into play it could pose a world of problems for users.

Keeping tight-lipped on future developments, a Google spokesperson told Marketing Land, “It’s simply too early to say when Glass will come to Europe. Right now, we’re focused on growing our Explorer programme in the US ahead of a wider consumer launch in the US next year.”

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.