Almost 10 years after the announcement of Google Glass at Google I/O 2011, Google is reportedly hard at work on a new product to reenter the consumer augmented reality headset space.
A new report from The Verge based on two sources with knowledge of the project offers a detailed look at what is internally known as Project Iris, an AR headset that the company hopes to release in 2024.
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Rest assured that Google is not resurrecting Glass, the new AR headset apparently resembles a pair of ski goggles, similar to some of the Apple AR/VR headset design leaks. Outward-facing cameras on the goggles will overlay content on the real world, making this true AR as opposed to the heads-up display design that Google used for Glass.
The sources indicated that the project is still early in development, which makes 2024 feel like a best-case scenario for launch. The most recent rumors are that Apple will deliver its headset in 2023, which based on previous leaks will mark eight years of development. Google has more of a history here than Apple with Glass and its VR headsets, but as both ultimately were scrapped that's perhaps not a massive advantage.
The headset should be powered by a custom Google processor, like the Tensor processor powering the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. While the prototypes presently run on Android according to the report, the team may be working on a custom OS for the final headset.
The team is reportedly led by Clay Bavor, the same executive that has run Google's AR and VR efforts for almost a decade now. Currently, he is the VP of Labs, a title that puts him in charge of a number of forward-looking projects like the Project Starline 3D telepresence booth and Google's new blockchain division. An AR headset certainly fits into that pantheon of products as it's not an area that Google can cede to Apple, Meta and Microsoft, but it's also unclear how to finally make it click with consumers.
While Project Iris is a relatively small team of 300 currently according to the people familiar with the project, it is set to grow considerably, and given that we are already seeing leaks, it's safe to assume that we'll be hearing plenty more about it in 2022.