Most of us recall the last time Google released an Augmented Reality headset (AR). The device, known as Google Glass, was ahead of its time. Google had high hopes for the device and had apparently begun planning nationwide fitting centres where customers could be measured for their $1,500 spectacles. The public eventually came to distrust Google Glass wearers and expressed concern over images taken without the subjects’ knowledge by Glass users. Concerned that Glass users were capturing bootleg versions of first-run movies, movie theatres barred Glass users from some theatres, while several bars refused to let guests wearing the glasses inside their establishments. Is Google planning a new attempt to create a consumer-facing augmented reality headset?
New augmented reality headdresses are apparently being developed by members
Two sources that requested anonymity so that they could talk about Project Iris even without permission from Google, said that early prototypes are being built at a facility in the San Francisco Bay Area and look like a pair of ski goggles. More interesting, the device apparently does not need a wired connection to an external power source and is powered by a custom Google chipset like the Tensor chip driving the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
Once Glass wearers earned the nickname “Glassholes,” Google decided to concentrate on selling the product to businesses where they are still being used. That wasn’t the original plan for what first hit the public as “Project Glass,” designed to make it appear as though data was in front of your face at all times, layered over a real world view. According to The Verge, it seems that the tech giant is once again looking to develop an Augmented Reality (AR) headset that cleverly has been codenamed Project Iris. Prototypes of Google’s AR headset use outward-facing cameras to deliver real world images that will be overlaid with computer-generated graphics.
Also similar to its newest Pixel handsets, the headset will run on Android although recent job listings reveal that Google is working on a unique OS. Back in December, the former head of mixed reality operating system work at Meta, Mark Lucovsky, revealed his new title as operating system engineering director at Google via LinkedIn post. “My role is to lead the Operating System team for Augmented Reality at Google,”Lucovsky noted.
Focals 2.0, which never was officially unveiled, was supposed to be smaller and lighter, and feature a larger lens and sharper graphics. There also was speculation about an integrated camera. Google could release its AR headset as soon as 2024, according to the aforementioned pair of sources, and while some members of the Pixel team are said to be involved in developing the headset, it isn’t clear whether the device will wear the Pixel name. Google plans to disseminate data by rendering graphics from a remote location and have them beamed into the headset via an internet connection.
Job listings made by Google point to the development of a new operating system and smartglasses. We jump to that conclusion because some of the jobs available are for positions in Waterloo, Ontario. That might mean something because that is where North was located. Google purchased North in 2020 for a reported $180 million. The company produced the Focals line of smartglasses which Google shut down after purchasing the firm. Focals 1.0 looked like a regular pair of prescription glasses but could project information (such as notifications of calls and messages, navigation, and more) from a connected Android or iOS handset into the right lens.
That Project Iris is a big deal can be inferred by how hard it is to access the building where work on the project is supposedly being done. The Verge notes that the only way to get into the building is through the use of a special key card and those working on it must affix their John Hancock to a Non-Disclosure form (sound painful, to be honest with you). The headcount on the project is 300 at last count and will be moving higher. The chain of command for Project Iris runs from Google executive Clay Bavor to CEO Sundar Pichai. Google might not want to repeat Google Glass, but it’s beginning to sound as though it has something that could be just as fresh and exciting as that Project Glass video that gave some techies chills back in 2012.
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