Google Iris
This is a Google prototype, but is it the one Google killed? Image: Google

Google’s Shocking Move: Project Iris Augmented Reality Glasses Meet an Untimely End

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Google Reportedly Abandons Project Iris Augmented Reality Glasses: Shifts Focus to Software Development”

In a surprising turn of events, Google has decided to halt its ambitious Project Iris, an augmented reality headset, according to insider reports. This decision comes after the unveiling of competing products from Meta and Apple, causing Google to reevaluate its strategy. Sources familiar with the matter state that the company has chosen to prioritize software development over hardware.

Project Iris, previously showcased as Google’s translation glasses, has now been shelved, leading to speculations that its planned features, such as transcription and navigation capabilities, will no longer see the light of day. Instead, Google aims to concentrate on building a “micro XR” platform, potentially available for licensing to other headset manufacturers, similar to its approach with Android for smartphones.

Interestingly, there are indications that the ski goggle-like headset mentioned earlier might still be on the horizon. Reports suggest that Google is no longer pursuing a solitary development path and has formed a collaboration with Samsung, as well as Qualcomm, for a new mixed reality platform. Inside sources suggest that Google’s goggles served as the foundation for Samsung’s upcoming headset.

This collaboration with Samsung wouldn’t be the first time the two tech giants joined forces. Google previously worked with Samsung to adapt Android for the Galaxy Fold series, a precursor to Google’s own Pixel Fold launch this year.

Initially, Google had plans to release its AR headset in 2024. During Google I/O 2023, Sameer Samat, Google VP, hinted at forthcoming details about the partnership with Samsung, promising further updates later this year.

Insider reports shed light on the tumultuous journey of Project Iris, marked by layoffs and shifting strategies throughout its development. Notably, Clay Bavor, Google’s head of VR/AR, left the company four months ago, adding to the challenges faced by the project. Kurt Akeley, a distinguished engineer associated with Project Iris, has retired, as indicated on his LinkedIn profile. However, Mark Lucovsky, the senior director of operating systems for AR, and a few others remain listed as being involved with AR initiatives at Google.

Google’s acquisition of AR glasses company North in 2020 seems to have kept several key employees within the organization. Stephen Lake, Matthew Bailey, Aaron Grant, and other co-founders are still actively working for Google, based on their LinkedIn profiles.



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