Augmented reality headsets: Google’s future plans in the AR/VR business

Things have turned fairly quiet with regard to Google Glass, but Google might currently be polishing up new plans in the AR headset segment now that it has bought the AR startup Raxium, which specializes in augmented reality displays.

It’s still unclear when or if “Project Iris” will materialize.
Image: © Yingyaipumi/Adobe Stock

Raxium way ahead in MicroLED development

Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President, Devices and Services at Google, recently posted a blog entry on the company’s website confirming the acquisition of tech startup Raxium. For around five years now, Raxium has been working on an innovative MicroLED technology that is set to pave the way for smaller and higher-resolution displays for augmented reality headsets. At the same time, the technology is meant to be cost-effective according to Osterloh’s post.

So, plenty of factors fueling speculation within the industry that Google is planning its own augmented reality device that will also appeal to consumers in terms of price. Such rumors have been flying around for a while: the company has reportedly been perfecting an AR headset for some time now as part of a project known internally as “Project Iris”.

However, Google is probably a bit late to the race to build the next generation of AR headsets. Meta might release its first AR/VR headset as soon as this summer as part of its “Project Cambria”, while Apple’s first AR product is expected to be launched as a mixed reality headset in late 2022 or early 2023. When Google’s “Project Iris” is slated to come on the market is anyone’s guess.

Google showcases AR glasses at I/O 2022

Google surprised everyone attending the I/O developer conference in mid-May with an AR data glasses prototype. The AR glasses are designed for a very specific scenario: translating speech in real time and displaying the translation in the field of vision, thereby enabling people to talk to each other even if they speak different languages. In terms of their design, you can hardly tell the AR glasses apart from a regular pair of eyeglasses.

During the presentation, Google didn’t reveal when or if the data glasses will come on the market or whether they’re merely intended to give an idea of what might be possible in the augmented reality domain in the future.

One thing’s for sure: Google seems to have a few things in the pipeline in the augmented reality segment. It will be interesting to see what will come of the company’s current AR/VR attempt.