If you’re one of the literally tens of people upset over Google Glass being discontinued in 2015 (and a second time earlier this year), prepare to have your heart broken all over again. Google’s next hardware AR glasses, teased as a prototype last year, have apparently been abandoned.
Three sources “familiar with the matter” have told Insider that Google has killed off Project Iris — “a series of devices… closely resembling eyeglasses” — and will leave the thankless task of AR hardware manufacturing to others.
That means that this neat translation demo won’t see the light of day.
Or not on Google-branded hardware in any case. The site reports that Google will focus on software. It’s beavering away on a platform called “micro XR” which it could licence to others, in a similar way to how Android and Wear OS appear on a bunch of rival manufacturers’ phones and watches. In short, it would be like “Android for AR”.
Google might also have a hand in other people’s hardware. The report says that a headset that resembles ski goggles (fashionable!) “were actually the foundations” of something from Samsung.
Back in February, Samsung Mobile President TM Koh told CNET it was working on something with Google and Qualcomm, so this could well be it.
As to why Google is letting others drive, it seems to be both a personnel thing and a cost-cutting initiative. The company’s head of all things AR and VR left Google to create an AI-focused startup back in February, which can’t have helped. Combine that with general headcount reductions and a strategy that kept shifting, and it’s surprising it made it as far as June.
It’s also possible that Google took one look at Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro and decided to cash out now — either because it can’t compete, or because the future just looks a bit silly, and Google wants out.