Google has quite the chuequered history when it comes to virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) devices. Most have failed to gain any momentum like the original Google Glass or Daydream View – Google Cardboard had it time in the sun though – but it seems the company hasn’t dropped those hardware aspirations. A new report this week suggests that Google is working on a new AR device codenamed Project Iris.
As reported by The Verge, Project Iris is an AR headset in early development that sports outward-facing cameras to supply video of the real world that can then be combined with computer graphics for a mixed reality experience. There’s a suggestion that it’ll be more immersive than Magic Leap.
The prototype is rumoured to currently resemble a pair of ski goggles and that the device will be entirely standalone, requiring no external power source. That puts it more in line with Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 device rather than Magic Leap 2 or Nreal Light which require an external processor puck or smartphone respectively.
It’s powered by a custom Google processor, runs on Android but if recent job listings are anything to go by it’ll have its own unique UI. There’s also the indication that the AR device will support cloud streaming, utilising Google’s data centres to help improve the fidelity. That’s to be expected as it means the onboard processor doesn’t need to be hugely powerful. Cloud streaming has been accelerating in the XR space, last year Google Cloud revealed a collaboration with NVIDIA CloudXR and Varjo announced the feature for its Reality Cloud platform this week.
How Project Iris will stack up against more vocal tech giants in the XR space such as Meta remains to be seen but just like Apple and its secretive plans, Google is trying to keep the project a secret. Supposedly the Pixel team are involved and the core team involved in Iris numbers around 300 people with more being hired, all overseen by Google VR boss Clay Bavor.
The sources familiar with Project Iris claim that 2024 has been earmarked for its launch. For continued updates on Project Iris, keep reading gmw3.