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Google Glass to cease sales; should travelers mourn its passing?

Google says it'll soon stop selling the little computer you wear on your face. What's a traveler to think?

Sales of Google Glass, the computer you wear on your face like a bulky, nerdy pair of eyeglasses, will cease Monday.

That news appeared Thursday on the Google Glass + website. “Jan. 19 will be the last day to get the Glass Explorer Edition. In the meantime, we’re continuing to build for the future, and you’ll start to see future versions of Glass when they’re ready.

“Glass was in its infancy, and you took those very first steps and taught us how to walk. Well, we still have some work to do, but now we’re ready to put on our big kid shoes and learn how to run.”

I walked in those infant shoes with Google Glass, testing out a pair as part of a package offered by San Francisco’s Stanford Court hotel. For two days, I evaluated Glass’ effectiveness (bumping up against my occasional ineptness) as I visited some places in the City by the Bay where I’d been before and explored some new places too.

The resulting story and photos (some by Glass) chronicled some of the high points of having a computer/still camera/video camera at hand, including the welcome idea that I wasn’t walking around with stuff in my hands (a camera, a smartphone, a guidebook).

But from a travel perspective, Glass just wasn’t ready for the big time. Not enough apps, not enough battery power. In bright sunlight, the screen was hard — sometimes impossible — to see. At $1,500, it was an expensive investment with not enough return to justify the purchase. And I looked like a dork, although my traveling companions suggested this might not be a function of Glass.

Google products also have, to my mind, a slightly steeper learning curve than some others. Maybe Google wants a slightly higher-tech consumer for its product. That would be a shame if Glass grows up, as its post suggests it will, because part of the joy of technology for average consumers like me is feeling as though we get to be part of a club we shouldn’t really get to belong to.

So long, GG. Give us a call when you come back.

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