Google might have ditched its Daydream VR headset years ago, but that doesn't mean it gave up on headsets altogether. The Verge sources claim Google is developing an augmented reality headset, nicknamed Project Iris, that it wants to release in 2024. The standalone wearable would use a custom Google processor, outward-facing tracking cameras and run Android, although a custom OS is a possibility given job listings. It might also rely on cloud-based rendering to overcome the processing power limitations of a headset.
Clay Bavor, the manager for the Project Starline 3D telepresence booth (also said due for 2024), is understood to be overseeing the highly secretive project. The tipsters also said the AR headset team included Google Assistant creator Scott Huffman, ARCore manager Shahram Izadi and Mark Lucovsky, the former leader of Meta's in-house OS development. The Pixel division is also believed to be involved in some hardware work.
We've asked Google for comment, although CEO Sundar Pichai hinted in October that AR was a "major area of investment" for the company. The headset is supposedly very early in development without a clear market strategy, suggesting that the 2024 target isn't firm.
The headset might seem unexpected from a company burned by its initial take on an AR wearable. It's not a shock given the evolving landscape, however. Apple is widely rumored to be creating a mixed reality headset, while Meta hasn't been shy about wanting to both develop AR hardware and jumpstart the metaverse. Google risks ceding the field to competitors if it doesn't offer AR hardware or the platform to match, even if finished technology is still years away.