- Google has killed its Iris smart glasses, Insider has learned.
- Resembling eyeglasses, Iris went through several iterations.
- Google is now focused on building software platforms to court headset makers like Samsung.
Google killed off a project to build a pair of augmented-reality glasses it had been working on for several years.
The glasses, known internally by the codename Iris, were shelved earlier this year following layoffs, reshuffles, and the departure of Clay Bavor, Google’s chief of augmented and virtual reality, according to three people familiar with the matter. A Google spokesperson declined to comment.
The Verge first reported on the existence of Project Iris in January 2022, describing the device as resembling a pair of ski goggles. However, Google employees said the “ski goggles” were actually the foundations of a separate AR project that’s since been announced as a partner product with Samsung, while Iris was a series of devices more closely resembling eyeglasses.
Google planned to build and launch Iris as its own product, and it shored up talent through acquisitions. In 2020, the company announced it had purchased North, a Canadian startup that made AR glasses. An early version of Iris closely resembled North’s first device, the Focals, while a later version that Google publicly demoed had translation features.
Since shelving the Iris glasses, Google has focused on creating software platforms for AR that it hopes to license to other manufacturers building headsets. It’s building an Android XR platform for Samsung’s headset and has been working on a “micro XR” platform for glasses, a person familiar with the plan said.
Employees working on the “micro XR” software are using a prototyping platform known internally as Betty. One employee described Google’s new ambition as being the “Android for AR,” focusing on software rather than hardware.
Insiders say Google leaders kept changing the strategy for the Iris glasses when they were in development, which led to the team continually pivoting, frustrating many employees.
The stumble with Iris may see Google playing catch-up not just in AI. Apple, which recently unveiled its long-awaited Vision Pro headset, is building a pair of lightweight glasses that more closely resemble Google’s Iris efforts, but it has faced technical challenges, Bloomberg reported. Google employees described the Samsung partner goggles device as a direct response to fears of what Apple was working on.
Meanwhile, Meta, which is also building AR glasses, plans to seed an early version of the device to developers as soon as next year, The Information reported.
Two employees said that it was possible Google may resurrect the Iris glasses one day and that some teams were still experimenting with AR technologies. Other teams were moved to work on the software platform and Samsung partnership, they said.
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