Shutting the Lens: Google’s Project Iris Augmented Reality Glasses Meet an Untimely End


According to reports, Google has given up on Project Iris, an effort to develop an AR headgear that was intended to compete with Apple’s and Meta’s AR products. The translation glasses that Google displayed at Google I/O last year were what we called “vaporware,” but this recent development hints that they have been abandoned. It probably also suggests that the versions with transcription and navigation features, which were supposed to go through public testing beginning in July, have been scrapped.

Insider claims that Google is turning its attention away from AR hardware and toward AR software. The company is developing a “micro XR” platform that might be licensed to other headset producers, similar to Google’s strategy with Android for a variety of smartphone models.

Despite Project Iris’s apparent demise, rumors continue to surround the previously rumored headset that resembles ski goggles. The new mixed reality platform that Google, Samsung, and Qualcomm announced their collaboration on in February hasn’t seen any meaningful improvements since. Apparently, Google’s goggles “were actually the foundations” for a future Samsung headset, according to insider sources.

The ability for Google to concentrate on software while gaining access to Samsung’s hardware know-how makes this partnership potentially prudent. This method is similar to Google’s earlier one with Android, where it gave the operating system to several smartphone producers.

During its development, Project Iris had challenges, such as layoffs and altering tactics. Clay Bavor, Google’s head of VR/AR, left the firm four months ago. A renowned engineer who was formerly involved with the project, Kurt Akeley, has “retired” listed as his status on LinkedIn. While certain important personnel who were a part of Google’s 2020 North acquisition are still there, it seems that Project Iris’ initial design may have finally been considered unworkable.

Google’s choice to pivot its AR strategy toward software may be a tactical adaption to stay relevant in this new technology sector as the AR landscape changes and powerful rivals like Meta and Apple make substantial progress.

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