Google’s “Iris” augmented/virtual reality headset may never see the light of day.
A new report(opens in a new tab) by Business Insider, which cites three people familiar with the matter, says Google backed out of building the product earlier this year, despite having been working on it for several years.
We first heard about Iris in January last year, when The Verge reported that the company is building a battery-operated, Android-based AR headset that looks like ski goggles (sound familiar?). The headset was supposed to run on Google’s Tensor chip and have external cameras that could help place virtual objects in the user’s real field of vision.
It all sounds a lot like Apple’s Vision Pro, which was recently announcement after (reported) internal delays, but it looks like Google has finally decided to take a different approach.
According to Business Insider, Google was working on two different AR products internally, with “ski goggles” being the basis of a product that Google jointly announced with Samsung and Qualcomm in February. That one still has a chance of happening.
Iris – the one that would have been canceled – looked like regular glasses.
Google is a pioneer in AR, having launched Google Glass in 2013, only to cancel it as a consumer product two years later. The company brought it back as a commercially-oriented product in 2017, but it also died in March 2023. If this new report is accurate, Iris continues Google’s tradition of launching (or thinking to throw) AR glasses, then to give over.
Instead of building a hardware AR headset, Google will instead focus on building a software platform for AR, with other manufacturers building actual headsets for the platform.