Google’s Project Iris Could Rival Apple’s Mixed Reality Headset


Meta has already established its presence in the AR/VR hardware industry with Oculus products, and Apple is rumored to have a strong contender in the offing. However, Google hasn’t thrown in the towel yet. The company is reportedly developing an AR headset, internally codenamed Project Iris, that would hopefully ship in 2024.

The Verge cited two anonymous people familiar with the matter who said the search giant is developing AR glasses that would project virtual objects onto real-world environments for the user to see and interact with. Learning from past attempts with Google Glass, the company is using a device that visually resembles ski goggles this time and is powered by built-in batteries. Interestingly, Apple’s AR/VR headset is also expected to use a similar physical design.

Apple’s maiden hardware offering in the segment is rumored to feature a processor more powerful than the M1 chip. Meanwhile, the report claims that Google is also working on a custom processor, probably based on the Tensor chip seen in current-generation Pixel phones. It plans to stream AR content to the headsets from its vast data centers via an internet connection. This would help reduce the computational power and power draw of the headset’s onboard processor.

The uncorroborated sources claim that the Pixel team is involved in the product’s development, but it isn’t clear if the AR headset would be Pixel-branded.

Google Labs’ long-time AR/VR head Clay Bavor is said to be at the helm of this project. Other well-known Google employees working on Project Iris include former VP of engineering for Google Assistant Scott Huffman. The former CTO for Google Lens and the engineering director for ARCore are also said to be involved. Recent job listings suggest that Google is in the process of developing a custom OS for the headset based on Android.

The company hopes to have a market-ready product by 2024, although its efforts have only recently gathered steam. Rumor has it that the tech giant doesn’t have a concrete market strategy for the upcoming device yet.

The report mentions that Google is tight-lipped about Project Iris and a select group of 300 staffers works on the project in a separate building on the Bay Area premises. The employees require “special keycard access and non-disclosure agreements.” The company is expected to grow this team in the future.

[Via The Verge]
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