It looks like Google will be making a second attempt at augmented reality glasses at some point in the future.
It is according to the New York Times, which claims Google is “fueling a new project” and “working on a new iteration of smart glasses.” This confirms a job listing from last year that mentioned the company’s plans for an “innovative AR device.”
Sadly, that’s about as much detail as the Times, but the report suggests it’s a direct result of Google’s acquisition of North last year. Before it was acquired, North had a set of smart glasses – Focals – that would have cost you $ 600 previously, but are no longer available for sale.
North was teasing a second gen ahead of its acquisition, and it’s possible that this could form the basis of Google’s latest attempt at AR.
Google’s first attempt at AR glasses was of course widely viewed as a failure – or, more generously, “ahead of its time.” Google Glass was sold to the public as the “Explorers Edition” with a hefty price tag of $ 1,500, making its limitations – poor battery life and sparse features – harder to swallow.
The built-in camera also raised privacy concerns. All of this, combined with the unfortunate ‘glass hole’ nickname given to early adopters, meant that the product was discontinued for consumers in 2015. Although it remains available for corporate customers.
Google Glass 2: the second time, it’s the charm?
Why would Google be so eager to relive a very public failure? Well, a lot has changed over the next seven years that could make the company think it would be on a more secure footing this time around.
On the one hand, mobile chips are much more powerful now, and Google could create immersive augmented reality experiences without having to rely on a phone. In fact, Google has made its own Tensor chip for the Google Pixel 6 line, and it is very possible that it will adopt its silicon for portable devices.
The biggest problem with the glass was its ostentatious appearance. While the design tried to resemble regular eyewear as much as possible, the technology of the time was difficult to integrate. That’s not surprising when you remember that 2013 was the year of the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S4, and HTC One, and that’s enough to say that as technology and miniaturization both have progressed in leaps and bounds, an AR 2022 headset could be much more discreet.
But even though smart glasses continue to look overtly technical in their aesthetic, it might not matter. Google Glass seemed odd because hardly anyone was standardizing appearance, and that might be about to change. Apple has long been said to be interested in space and will apparently release its first AR headset this year, with the long-term goal of replacing the iPhone with AR glasses.
It might sound unlikely, but remember AirPods were once dismissed as too weird to take off – and now they’re ubiquitous. If Apple can get the ball rolling, Google could benefit from the resulting change in attitude as well, and the next few years could really see AR take off in a big way.
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