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In recent years, Google has notoriously kept its work on augmented reality hardware secret. That has started to change recently, while a new report today provides explicit confirmation that “Google is working on a new iteration of smart glasses.”

As part of a broader piece about the major tech companies working on AR hardware, the New York Times today explicitly said that Google is “nurturing a new project.” The Times suggests that this latest project was the result of last year’s North acquisition. That’s unfortunately the extent of details, with the company declining to comment. 

As such, it’s unclear whether Google plans to release a stopgap headset or whether it’s entirely focused on the smart glasses form factor. Apple’s first device next year is rumored to be a mixed reality headset that can be used for AR development in addition to virtual reality, through the use of a pass-through camera where users can view the real world through a video feed rather than directly. Meta is similarly working on Project Cambria for 2022. 

When Google acquired North in June of 2020, the Canadian company had already stopped selling Focals 1.0 and decided to cancel Focals 2.0. Various leads and engineers at the start-up are now part of the Devices & Services division at Google that’s responsible for Pixel, Nest, and other hardware. That organizational placement makes sense ahead of an eventual consumer product and comes as the team building an Augmented Reality OS is also situated under Devices & Services. 

This recent flurry of public-facing development, including Google Labs, comes as previous reporting from The Information said that Google’s AR team “wasn’t working on advanced AR glasses as of mid-2019.” Earlier that year, at I/O, lead Clay Bavor said the company was focused on “deep R&D.”

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com