Google’s sparring Meta secret project exposed: 300 people lay out the Metaverse, focus on hardware, and sign a non-disclosure agreement at the door

This new hardware from Google wants to be your first Metaverse purchase.

Facebook became Meta, firing the first shot in the Metaverse of Silicon Valley. But in fact, the loudest roar may not be the one with the most layout. Apple is expected to release its first hardware AR headset this year, and Microsoft already has a very strong Hololens team (although it has been dug up by Meta recently).

It was Google that was finally revealed to join the fray. Google’s layout in the Metaverse is likely to begin with the hardware product and the mysterious project behind it that I wrote about today.

This mysterious project is named Iris, and its hardware product is likely to be an AR headset. According to The Verge, the project is extremely secretive, and its research and development building is not accessible to all Google employees, but requires special verification. In addition, everyone involved in this project must sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with the company. But while quietly, this project has also received a lot of attention within Google. At present, there are more than 300 people in the project, and there are many technical experts.

Metaverse, Google is late but here

At Google’s campus in the San Francisco Bay Area, about 300 Google employees are trying to develop an AR headset. This is another bold attempt by Google after repeated failures in hardware research and development, especially in augmented and virtual reality products.

Much like Meta and Apple’s upcoming hardware AR headsets, Google insiders told The Verge on condition of anonymity that the AR headset will use outward-facing cameras to blend computer graphics with real-world video. In their descriptions, the effect will be more realistic than existing AR hardware products like Snap and Magic Leap. Additionally, respondents said the product had a similar appearance to ski goggles, had a built-in battery, and didn’t require a cumbersome external power link.

The product will use a Google processor and run on Android. However, there are also some rumors that Google is developing a special operating system for it. For example, in September last year, the media Google9TO5 reported that Google is developing a new operating system, Augmented Reality OS, for augmented reality helmet products that may be developed in the future.

In addition, Google plans to use its data centers to render images remotely and transmit them to users’ headsets over a network connection.

Google’s Pixel team has also been involved in some hardware design, but it’s not certain whether the phone will be listed under the Pixel brand. At present, this product is still in the early development stage and is expected to officially meet users in 2024. However, this time has not yet been set, and it may face an extension.

Huge ambition and technical support

Project Iris is an extremely secretive project inside Google. Team members need special key cards to enter the R&D building, which other Googlers probably don’t have. At the same time, they must sign a non-disclosure agreement with Google.

Although there is almost no external voice, the ambition of this team is not small. This can be seen from the team configuration of its per capita Daniel. The core team responsible for helmet development already has at least 300 employees. In addition, according to team insiders, the team plans to expand by hundreds of people in the near future.

Project Iris is run by Clay Bavor. He currently reports directly to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. In addition, he is also the head of Project Starline, a dazzling project at last year’s Google conference, the ultra-high-resolution holographic video chat technology. At the time, Project Starline was also labeled the first move in the Google Metaverse.

Google's sparring Meta secret project exposed: 300 people lay out the Metaverse, focus on hardware, and sign a non-disclosure agreement at the door

Simply put, through this technology, when you have a “online” conversation with a remote person, you can see a realistic 3D portrait, as if it were a face-to-face communication with a real person. Those who tried Project Starline said it was one of the most impressive demonstrations of technology ever.

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

According to The Verge, Google will release Project Starline and Iris together, possibly by 2024. Notably, Project Starline recently hired Paul Greco, CTO of Silicon Valley shredder Magic Leap, to join the team. His departure, accompanied by the departure of several other Magic Leap veterans – founder Rony Abovitz, chief patent officer David LundmARk and COO Henk Viestra, almost made Magic Leap, a company once famous for its whale videos, withdraw from the historical stage of Silicon Valley .

Google's sparring Meta secret project exposed: 300 people lay out the Metaverse, focus on hardware, and sign a non-disclosure agreement at the door

It can be said that after the epidemic hit the United States and people generally work from home, Starline has become an important step in Google’s strategy. As Pichai’s friend within the company, Bavor, who joined Google’s incubator AREA 120 in 2005,’s “record” in VR and AR can even be traced back to Google’s Cardboard and Daydream many years ago. However, it is worth noting that most of these products have gone to the end of failure.

Google's sparring Meta secret project exposed: 300 people lay out the Metaverse, focus on hardware, and sign a non-disclosure agreement at the door

In addition to Bavor, in this mysterious Iris project, there are many industry leaders. Such as Shahram Izadi who is Senior Director. PerspectiveIO, which he previously co-founded, has been acquired by Google, according to his personal LinkedIn page. Most of the company’s early employees came from Microsoft. Shahram Izadi’s previous work at Microsoft is also related to Hololens. In addition, Mark Lucovsky, general manager of the operating system who left Meta Oculus a few months ago, has also joined the Google Iris project. Eddie Chuang, who also manages 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’s fair to say that Google is betting its hopes against the Meta Metaverse on Iris.

The road to VR and AR is ill-fated

Project Iris also marks Google’s return to hardware development related to AR and VR technology. Previously, although Google was one of the relatively first giants to enter the field, the bad thing was that almost every product ended up in decline and failure.

When Google launched Google Glass in 2012, Microsoft hadn’t even launched Hololens, and Oculus was a startup in Southern California that had nothing to do with Facebook.

Google's sparring Meta secret project exposed: 300 people lay out the Metaverse, focus on hardware, and sign a non-disclosure agreement at the door

Unfortunately, it eventually disappeared from the public eye due to its high price of $1,500 and a camera function that was considered quite “weird” and invading privacy at the time.

Then, in 2014, Google became the largest investor in Magic Leap, the then-popular augmented reality chicken.

Time to go to 2016. Just as 2021 was called the first year of the Metaverse, 2016 was called the first year of VR by the Silicon Valley tech circle at the time. At the Google I/O conference in May of that year, it was Bavor who stood on the stage to announce the news of Google’s release of the VR headset Daydream.

Google's sparring Meta secret project exposed: 300 people lay out the Metaverse, focus on hardware, and sign a non-disclosure agreement at the door

In the same year, Magic Leap was valued at $4.5 billion, and Oculus, which had been acquired by Facebook, released the Rift.

After that, Facebook rapidly expanded its team in AR and VR projects, and even changed its name to Meta last year, officially entering the Metaverse. But Google’s expansion into VR and AR hardware has been increasingly low-key. Among them, the largest known acquisition in the related field is the acquisition of smart glasses startup North in 2020. At present, most of the company’s team employees still work at Google.

It was not until October last year that Google publicly mentioned its layout in this field again. Augmented reality will be an important investment area for Google in the future, Pichai said in the earnings report. The newly revealed Project Iris is likely to be part of this plan, and it is also a technical response to Meta’s aggressive entry into the Metaverse.

In any case, the Silicon Valley Metaverse battle has begun. Compared with Meta’s spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build a team and poach Hololens, Apple is expected to launch thousands of people to develop AR headsets this year, leaving Google running out of time to catch up. Just hope, this isn’t the next Google Glass or the next Google Daydream.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
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