Google’s Metaverse ambitions

Google's Metaverse ambitions

The Metaverse is getting a lot of attention in 2021, and some believe that the Metaverse will bring about the next technological revolution. Large companies such as the internationally renowned social giant Meta see the Metaverse as the company’s next growth point, while the design chip giant Nvidia hopes to become an infrastructure provider for Metaverse technology. Domestic companies also have different levels of deployment in the Metaverse field. , For example, the three major telecom operators hope to provide infrastructure for the Metaverse in the field of communication. Today, let’s take a look at Google’s layout in the Metaverse.

Set up a secret project to develop virtual reality equipment

On January 20, 2022, the well-known foreign technology media “The Verge” published an article called “GOOGLE IS BUILDING AN AR HEADSET”, reporting that Google recently started a mysterious project called Iris. According to The Verge’s description, this project is likely to develop an AR helmet.

Google's Metaverse ambitions


Source: The Verge website

This project is extremely secretive, and its research and development building is not accessible to all Google employees, but requires special verification. “The Verge” found that participants in the Iris project must sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA, Non-disclosure agreement) with the company. It is rumored that the Iris project has more than 300 people and a large number of technical experts. According to insiders, the team plans to expand by hundreds of people in the near future.

If it is true, then this will be another bold attempt by Google in hardware research and development, especially in augmented and virtual reality products after repeated failures (previously launched AR glasses but suffered a tragic failure).

According to a Google insider who spoke to The Verge on condition of anonymity, the AR headset will use an outward-facing camera to blend computer graphics with real-world video, which will be more effective than existing AR hardware products like Snap and Magic Leap. reality. Similar in appearance to ski goggles, this product has a built-in battery that doesn’t require a cumbersome external power link. The product will use a Google processor and run on Android.

As for the operating system, another technology media “Google9TO5” revealed that Google is developing a new operating system, Augmented Reality OS, for augmented reality helmet products that may be developed in the future. Now that Google’s Android system has a place in the field of smartphones, it is very likely that Google will also occupy a place in the field of augmented reality operating systems in the future.

According to the article in The Verge, Google plans to use its data centers to render images remotely and transmit them to users’ headsets over a network connection. For the release time, “The Verge” predicts that the device is expected to officially meet users in 2024.

The Iris project will be owned by Google Labs. Founded in 2006, Google Labs has launched many widely used services in the past, including: Google Maps, Gmail, Google Trends, Google Docs, etc. However, in 2011, Google Labs announced the end of operations and was replaced by Google X, which focused on a more promising development project.

The Iris project is led by Clay Bavor (who has been working on VR-related projects at Google since 2015). He currently reports directly to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. In addition, he is the head of Project Starline, Google’s ultra-high-resolution holographic video chat technology.

In addition to Clay Bavor, the Iris project has also been joined by many industry leaders, such as Shahram Izadi, who is the senior director. PerspectiveIO, which he previously co-founded, has been acquired by Google, and the company was involved in the development of Microsoft’s VR/AR device Hololens. In addition, Mark Lucovsky, the operating system general manager who previously left Meta Oculus, has also joined the Google Iris project. Eddie Chuang, who managed Google’s ARcore software toolkit, Scott Huffman, who was in charge of product development for Google Lens, and Kurt Akeley, founder and vice president of Google Assistant, are also currently working on the Iris project.

It can be said that the Iris project has gathered many industry leaders. Google is investing a lot of money in the Iris project, hoping to occupy a place in the Metaverse display device.

Project Iris marks Google’s return to the hardware category. Google released Google Glass in 2012, which attracted a lot of attention at the time. In 2012, Microsoft had yet to launch Hololens, and Oculus was a Southern California startup that had nothing to do with Meta. However, the coldness of the market can only allow Google to quietly launch the market.Google has since opted to focus on software feature efforts such as a visual search engine and AR directions in Google Maps. The news of the Iris project means that Google hopes to continue to make efforts in the hardware field.

Google develops innovative video communication technology

Project Starline is an experimental video communication method developed by Google that allows users to view a 3D model of the person they are communicating with. Google announced the product at its 2021 I/O developer conference, saying it will allow users to talk, gesture and make eye contact naturally by leveraging machine learning, spatial audio, computer vision and real-time compression. Users don’t need to wear typical VR goggles to get the 3D effect. The goal is to make users feel as if they are in the same room as other users. Therefore, at that time, Project Starline was also labeled as the first move of the Google Metaverse. Someone who tried Starline said it was one of the most impressive tech demos ever.

This technology will also be used by Google in the field of teleconferencing. Google says that using Starline increases people’s attention by about 15 percent compared to using traditional video conferencing. When asked about the content of the conversation, the subjects’ memory improved by 30%.

The Starline project recently hired Paul Greco, CTO of Magic Leap, an American VR/AR equipment maker that Alibaba had invested in, to join the team. In addition to Paul Greco, several other Magic Leap veteran founders Rony Abovitz, chief patent officer David LundmARk and COO Henk Viestra have also joined Google’s project.

With the outbreak of the epidemic, the global demand for virtual meetings and offices has skyrocketed. And Starline, which provides basic technology, has become an important step in Google’s strategy.

Layout of Crypto payment field

After Google abandoned its foray into banking, Google hired former PayPal executive Arnold Goldberg to head up its payments division, helping improve Google Pay and plans to expand into crypto payments. Bill Ready, Google’s president of commerce, said that encryption is a direction that Google is very focused on, and as the needs of users and the needs of merchants evolve, we will evolve with it. The move is also part of a broader strategy to work with financial services, including Crypto. The Metaverse is a virtual world, and it will inevitably involve the field of payment. Google’s layout of the Crypto payment field also lays the foundation for its future entry into the Metaverse.

Google Pay is an online payment system developed by Google for in-app purchases on mobile devices, including Android phones, tablets, and watches.

In April 2021, Google Pay announced a new partnership with global Crypto exchange Gemini. The update allows Gemini users to buy bitcoin with fiat currency on a debit or credit card via Google Pay. Google partnered with Coinbase in June 2020 to allow exchange customers to pay for goods and services through Google Pay using their Coinbase card. Users can also get up to 4% off when shopping. In October 2020, a partnership between Crypto exchange Bakkt and Google allowed exchange customers to purchase goods and services using certain Crypto through their Google Pay wallet.

Google actually dropped plans in November 2021 for a service called Plex that allowed users to create checking and savings accounts.

At a time when many Internet giants around the world are engaged in the construction of the Metaverse, Google is also setting up a new department to keep up with the development of the Metaverse era. Bloomberg reports that Google is forming a team working on the Metaverse and related technologies. Shivakumar Venkataraman, Google’s corporate vice president of engineering, now runs a unit focused on the Metaverse and other next-generation distributed computing and data storage technologies. Shivakumar Venkataraman worked in Google’s core business and search advertising business for more than 10 years. Shivakumar Venkataraman’s division will carry out various virtual and augmented reality businesses.

Google Cloud, which is owned by Google, already provides some cloud services to companies working on Metaverse technologies. In early January 2020, Google Cloud cooperated with CryptoWire, a subsidiary of 63 Moons Technologies, to develop a blockchain and encryption ecosystem.

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