Google’s mixed reality ambitions hit a roadblock

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Google has been working on various augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) projects for a while, but it seems that the tech giant is facing some major challenges in bringing them to fruition. According to a report by Insider, Google’s plan to launch a MR headset with Samsung has been delayed and its AR glasses project has been scrapped.

What is Project Moohan?

Project Moohan is the codename for Google’s MR headset, which is supposed to offer a immersive experience powered by the Android platform. The device has been in the works since at least last year, when Google, Samsung, and Qualcomm announced a partnership to create a MR platform.

Google’s mixed reality ambitions hit a roadblock
Google’s mixed reality ambitions hit a roadblock

However, the project has become a “political headache” at Google, as Insider reports. Sources told the publication that Samsung is more likely to “call the shots on product features” and that it doesn’t want Google’s other hardware divisions to have access to the project over fears that they might try to build a rival product.

How does Apple’s Vision Pro affect Project Moohan?

Another factor that has reportedly affected Project Moohan is the launch of Apple’s Vision Pro, a MR headset that offers a high-end experience with advanced features. Apple unveiled the device in June 2023, and it is expected to be available in early 2024.

According to a report by SBS Biz, a South Korean outlet, Samsung decided to push back the production plans for Project Moohan after seeing Apple’s Vision Pro. This means that we might not see the Google-Samsung headset until the middle of next year.

Some Google employees are not optimistic about the prospects of Project Moohan, as they think that it doesn’t provide enough buffer to come close to the Vision Pro, which is said to be nearly seven times hotter than the core of the Sun.

What happened to Google’s AR glasses?

Google’s AR glasses, codenamed Project Iris, were supposed to be a successor to the failed Google Glass. The glasses were designed to translate text in real time and offer other useful features. However, in June 2023, it was reported that Google had given up on Project Iris and disbanded the team working on it.

The reason for this decision is not clear, but it could be related to the technical difficulties and privacy concerns that plagued Google Glass. It could also be due to the competition from other companies, such as Facebook and Snap, that are developing their own AR glasses.

What is Google’s future in AR and MR?

Despite the setbacks, it seems that Google is not giving up on AR and MR completely. Insider reports that Google is exploring ways to use AI with AR glasses and is also incorporating Iris’ software into another project called Betty, which Google will use to “build a ‘Micro XR’ software that it intends to pitch to manufacturers building glasses.”

Betty may be monocular, which means it projects an image in front of one lens, but a second project, codenamed Barry, will make use of both lenses. The release of Google’s AR spectacles and MR headset might be far out, but this might not be a bad thing. Waiting to see what Apple and others are up to might give Google some time to make essential tweaks.

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