This is why companies don’t like to announce things until they’re almost ready. Project Iris, the internal name for a Google experiment with augmented reality glasses, is apparently dead. Kinda.
A Business Insider report claims, citing three sources “familiar with the matter”, that Google has yanked the plug on the project, at least internally. The concept had evolved from the highly cyberpunk/Dragon Ball Z single floating display idea that gave the world Glassholes a decade ago. You know, kinda like Apple’s Vision Pro design but meant to be worn outside?
Instead, the search giant is apparently shifting to what it does best — making software. The teams that were working on Project Iris are said to be moving over to something called “micro XR”. This’ll be an operating system of sorts for headset makers. Hey, the company nailed it with Android and this new product will probably be heavily Android-flavoured. Just for consistency’s sake.
While Google’s Project Iris is apparently dead, the goggle-shaped hardware might still see the light of day. Another company could take over hardware development and then pair said augmented reality hardware with Google’s software smarts. Samsung and Qualcomm are likely to be involved. The Business Insider report suggests that Samsung’s upcoming AR hardware is based on Google’s Project Iris design, but there’s no way to confirm that right now.
The two companies joined forces to release the Galaxy Watch 4 and WearOS not so long ago so there’s precedent for this sort of partnership. And now that Apple’s Vision Pro is heading to market, Samsung’s bound to want competing hardware out in the arena as soon as possible. If it’s able to leap its development ahead while giving Google a hand at the same time, it’ll probably jump at the chance. It’s certainly done so before.