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Google's Project Iris Might Pit Headset Warfare Against Meta And Apple
Google has a longstanding experience with augmented reality and virtual reality headsets, and it appears that increased pressure from firms like Meta and Apple is forcing the company to take things in stride. According to The Verge, Google is working on a consumer-oriented augmented reality headgear to do just that.
According to two people involved with the project who asked to remain anonymous to comment without the company's consent, the search giant has lately begun ramping up work on an AR headset, internally called Project Iris, which will deploy in 2024.
Google Project Iris To Outshine All AR/VR Headsets
Google's device, like Meta's and Apple's upcoming headsets, uses outward-facing cameras to integrate digital visuals with a video stream of the actual world, delivering a more immersive mixed reality vision than contemporary AR glasses like Snap and Magic Leap. Initial designs at a San Francisco Bay Area facility imitate a pair of ski goggles and don't necessitate a tethered connection to an external power source.
Google's headset is still in its initial phases of development, with no clear go-to-market strategy in place, suggesting that the 2024 goal date is more aspirational than concrete. The hardware, like the company's newest Google Pixel smartphone, is powered by a special Google CPU and runs on Android, however recent job advertisements suggest that a new operating system is in the works.
Given the limited power available, Google's idea is to leverage its data centers to produce some visuals remotely and send them to the headset over an internet connection.
The Pixel team is working on some of the hardware, but it's unclear whether the headset will be Pixel-branded in the end. Because of the early backlash for Glasshole and the fact that it technically still exists as an enterprise product, the term Google Glass is almost probably off the table.
Google's Project Iris Launch
Project Iris is a comeback to a hardware category in which Google has a tumultuous past. It all started with Google Glass's splashy, ill-fated debut in 2012. Then, in 2019, a multi-year campaign to market virtual reality headgear gradually fizzled away. Since then, Google has been unusually quiet about its hardware ambitions in the sector, opting instead to focus on software capabilities like Lens, its visual search engine, and Google Maps' augmented reality instructions.
Project Iris is a well-guarded Google secret, housed in a building with unique keycard access and non-disclosure clauses. The headset's core team numbers roughly 300 people, with hundreds more on the way, according to Google. Clay Bavor, who answers directly to CEO Sundar Pichai and also runs Project Starline, an ultra-high-resolution video chat booth that was co-developed last year, is in charge of the initiative.
Starline, together with Iris, is expected to be released by 2024. In a previously unknown move, it recently welcomed Magic Leap's CTO, Paul Greco, to the team. Several Fortune 500 organizations are collaborating on a pilot study to use Starline to facilitate remote meetings.
As part of its post-pandemic hybrid work strategy, Google also wants to install Starline internally. Starline is concentrating on lowering the cost of each device, which is currently in the tens of thousands of dollars.
On an earnings call in October, Pichai indicated that Google is "thinking through" augmented reality and that it will be a "big area of investment for us." The corporation has enough of funds to invest in big ideas. It has the great technical expertise, a strong Android software ecosystem, and appealing AR eyewear products like Google Lens.
However, it's uncertain whether Google will invest as heavily as Meta, which already spends $10 billion per year on AR and VR. Thousands of people are working on Apple's headgear and a more futuristic pair of AR glasses. Google appears to be playing catch-up unless it proves otherwise.