Google quietly ended its eyeglass-mounted Google Glass program on Jan. 19, before it ever offered the devices to the public for retail sales, but its recent filings with the Federal Communications Commission could be early evidence the company is working on a next-generation version of the devices.
In a May 15 letter to the FCC's laboratory, Google notified the agency that it had designated UL Verification Services Inc. to act as Google's agent in all matters pertaining to an application for equipment authorization for a product with the FCC ID number of A4R-GG1, according to a July 2 report by Droid Life. So far, very little is known about the product or the application, but the GG1 suffix in the FCC ID number could stand for Google Glass, leading the story to surmise that this might involve the next iteration of Google Glass in the future.
Other documents filed with the letter designating UL Verification Services also include a document called a Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) Evaluation Report, which measures the rate of radio frequency (RF) energy that is absorbed by the human body from mobile or other devices, according to the FCC. A SAR report includes data that is used to show a product's performance in meeting the safety guidelines set by the FCC for electronic devices.
The Google application to the FCC is vague in that it does not identify the pending product with a usual description such as a wearable or smartphone. Instead, the application only identifies the application as pertaining to a device with "BLUETOOTH & DTS/UNII a/b/g/n/ac," according to the SAR Evaluation report.
Interestingly, Google also included a separate letter dated May 15, which requests that its application for the device with FCC ID number A4R-GG1 also be reviewed with confidentiality by the agency, particularly in terms of the mysterious product's diagrams, schematics, theory of operation and antenna specifications.
"We request that all of the information contained in the above referenced exhibits to the certification application be withheld from routine public disclosure," Google requested in its letter. "The market for the technology that is the subject of the certification application is highly competitive, with numerous companies competing for the business of potential customers. Were our competitors to become aware of the facts set forth in the above referenced exhibits to the application at this time, it could have an adverse impact on our competitive standing and deprive us of the marketplace benefit we otherwise might achieve by virtue of having the product available before other competitors."
Google did not immediately respond to an eWEEK request for comment about the company's recent FCC application.
Google Glass has been a topic of conversation among techies since news of it first arrived on the tech scene when the company showed off the devices at the June 2012 Google I/O developers conference. Google Glass is a futuristic eyewear-mounted computer that provides its wearer with heads-up information, notifications, photo and video capabilities and much more.
The first beta Google Glass units began shipping in April 2013 to developers who signed up to buy a set at the Google I/O event for $1,500 for testing and development. Google eventually began shipping beta Glass units to any users who wanted to buy the still-fledgling devices for $1,500 through a Google Glass Explorer program that aimed to gather more input and experience with such devices from a larger pool of beta users.
Google said in January that it was not killing off the project, but wanted to take more time to work on the concept and perhaps bring it back in another form after what amounts to an indefinite hiatus.
Each Google Glass device of the first generation included adjustable nose pads and a high-resolution display that Google said is the equivalent of a 25-inch high-definition screen from 8 feet away. The glasses also featured a built-in camera that takes 5-megapixel photos and video at 720p. Audio was delivered to wearers through their bones, using bone-conduction transducers.
There have been several very public controversies involving Google Glass, as well. In January 2014, a network administrator from Columbus, Ohio, was removed from a movie theater and questioned by federal authorities over concerns that he was using the Google Glass on his head to film a bootleg copy of the movie being shown in the theater, eWEEK reported at the time. Eventually, the man was freed when he was able to prove that he had not used Glass to capture the film illegally. While he was detained, he was subjected to detailed questioning about his activities in the theater and about his use of Google Glass.