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New incubator seeks startups using Google Glass ‘to push humanity forward'

Google Glass is a controversial device. Some say it is the future of computing, others find it creepy, and no one knows what its true impact will be.

Stained Glass Labs debuted May 15 to support exploration and development of Glass technology. SGL is a group of entrepreneurs, mentors, and early adopters who are forming an incubator program for companies working with wearable computing. The community includes mentors from across the startup sector, including entrepreneurs, angel investors, VCs, and employees from major tech companies. SGL will accept 10 startups into the program, which involves a three-month bootcamp as well as tools, connections, and support to create Glass-based products for the mainstream.

“There is a lot of apprehension and negativity surrounding Glass, but it’s a lot like how people reacted when the iPhone first came out,” said founder Redg Snodgrass in an interview. “Any time you do something new, there is a level of discomfort with it, but Glass is pushing human evolution forward. It is a more natural fit for humanity than a smartphone because its integrated into our human environment. You can look up and engage with other people, and it’s a better way to interact with data in real life.”

By forming a supportive community around Glass, Stained Glass Labs hopes to make wearable computing more accessible to people who aren’t “dorks or doctors.” The device itself is still in the early stages. During her review, VentureBeat writer Jolie O’Dell described it as “nonintuitive and buggy” and without many apps or features. While O’Dell sees it as a distraction from reality, Snodgrass believes it will make people more attuned to it.

“There are no experts yet,” he said. “No one has the answers, and Stained Glass Labs is not like a traditional incubator where we teach you because we know all the answers. Initially its more about a community where everyone can bounce around ideas.”

The name for Stained Glass Labs was inspired by the ancient Romans. Stained glass was considered a luxury of the wealthy rather than an art form until it became popular in churches and accessible to the common people. Artists and craftsmen began experimenting with the medium, and it flourished. Stained Glass Labs hopes the same will happen with Glass.

“Many in our community have spent grandiose efforts to dismiss, denigrate, and deny the urge of promise that is wearable glass technology,” the group said in a statement. “We as a group have stepped up to say that it is inevitable humanity will integrate with technology for the betterment or detriment of society. We have decided to push Glass to be about this “betterment.”

Startups are already working on applications and products that involve wearable computing. There are wide possibilities for the health care industry, field workers, and multiple news apps have already come out. Snodgrass, however, said that he is most interested in the social possibilities of the technology. Stained Glass Labs isn’t limited to Google and there are other wearable computing devices out there like the Memento camera and a Motorola hands-free computer, but Glass is the main focus at the moment.

Before founding Stained Glass Labs, Snodgrass cofounded Skout, “the first dating app in the App Store,” and Taploid. Cofounder Kyle Ellicott is the cofounder and president of Heavy Cloud Media Group and the creative director at TechZulu. 

2013-05-21, Venture Beat, Rebecca Grant.

Keywords: technologies, startups, Google, business incubator

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