The race for augmented reality (AR) supremacy just took an unexpected turn. Google, once set to challenge rivals like Meta and Apple with its AR headset Project Iris, has reportedly aborted the mission. According to Insider, citing three insiders, the tech giant has shelved its AR glasses project.
Last year's Google I/O showcased impressive translation glasses, a tantalizing glimpse into the future of wearable tech. Now, that future seems uncertain, casting doubts over Google's ambitious plans for transcription and navigation features.
The story doesn't end here, though. Google's shift away from hardware doesn't signify a withdrawal from the AR battlefield. Instead, it marks a strategic pivot towards software, building a 'micro XR' platform that could be licensed to other headset manufacturers, reminiscent of its successful Android model.
Interestingly, Insider suggests Google's ski goggle-like headset, which we reported on earlier, may still be on the table, albeit not as a solo project. A recent, albeit cryptic, announcement by Google, Samsung, and Qualcomm hinted at a collaborative effort on a new mixed reality platform. It now seems that the previously mentioned goggles could form the bedrock of Samsung's forthcoming headset.
Google's tech alliances aren't new. The company joined forces with Samsung to modify Android for the Galaxy Fold series, long before the launch of its own Pixel Fold.
Last month, Google VP Sameer Samat, at Google I/O 2023, promised more details later in the year about the Samsung partnership. However, Google's shifting AR strategies and notable departures, including Clay Bavor, the company's head of VR/AR, suggest turbulent times for the tech giant's AR ambitions.
While the curtains seem to be drawing on Project Iris, Google's AR journey is far from over. With its pivot towards software and potential collaborations, we can only wait to see how Google's AR story unfolds.