Google doubles down on re-entry into consumer AR with renewed focus on hardware, software

The news: Recent job listings at Google reveal the Big Tech company’s plans for a mobile augmented reality (AR) platform intended to reach billions of users.

Why it’s worth watching: After being a pioneer in AR with Google Glass, Google shied away from consumer VR and refocused its technology on enterprise. As AR competition heats up from Apple and, most notably, Meta, Google seems to be ramping up its own AR push, per Ars Technica.

  • Mark Lucovsky, who headed up Meta’s mixed-reality operating system unit, announced on LinkedIn that he just joined Google. “My role is to lead the Operating System team for AR at Google,” he posted along with various AR-related job listings at Google.
  • The listings reveal that potential new hires could be working on an “innovative AR device.” With one of the listings stating that Google is “focused on making immersive computing accessible to billions … through mobile devices.”
  • Google’s Android is the world’s most popular operating system, with more than 2.5 billion active users in 190 countries, per Business of Apps.
  • While most of the new roles are based in the US, some are located in Canada’s innovation epicenter in Waterloo, Ontario, where smart-glass maker North has its offices. Google acquired North in 2020.

The big takeaway: Google Glass was ahead of its time and too expensive and obtrusive for mainstream use, but businesses and consumers now seem to be more accepting of AR and mixed-reality applications as a whole, which gives Google the perfect opportunity to develop its own hardware and AR solutions.

  • Android’s popularity gives Google a natural jumping-off point as well as a captive audience it can flip into AR users.
  • Just like Meta and Apple, Google has expanded its hardware offerings from smart speakers, Pixel phones, and Chromebooks, and could easily ramp up production of AR glasses or headsets.

Why this could succeed: Google is playing to its strengths by using its dominance in mobile as the foundation for its consumer AR reboot.

Snagging Meta’s OS head, as well as integrating existing Google Glass technology with smart glass and gesture tech from North, make for a viable AR strategy.