Google is one of Microsoft’s main competitors in the mixed reality (MR) space. While Microsoft has taken steps with HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality, Google has largely stuck to virtual reality for hardware. However, Mountain View has deep plans for MR and has reportedly tabbed former Microsoft Surface employees to help push development.
Those employees are the team of former Redmond employees who formed PerceptiveIO. We discussed the departure of several key Microsoft figures in 2016, who left to form the start-up. That group included Jeff Han, the former head of Surface Hub, and former HoloLens researcher Shahram Izadi.
It looks like Google has acquired PerceptiveIO sometime during the last few months. There has been no official confirmation form the company, but there is plenty of evidence.
For example, WalkingCat tweeted research documentation that shows the PerceptiveIO team is working within Google’s Augmented Perception Group. While this could be a collaboration, it is interesting that the PerceptiveIO website is now under a Google-owned domain.
As details are not known, it is unclear if Han moved to Google or not. Before joining Microsoft, Han was the founder of Perceptive Pixel, a company Microsoft acquired in 2012. The technology developed by Perceptive Pixel eventually because the underpinning of the Surface Hub.
Han left to form PerceptiveIO and had an ambitious plan for the company. He planned to “touch millions of lives and change the world” by “building and shipping beautifully engineered systems at the intersection of novel hardware and software.” The company is focused on building systems that can “truly perceive and interact with the world in real-time”, and can “build user experiences that can change the way people interact with computers.”
Those plans may be easier to achieve under Google’s stewardship and will enhance Mountain View’s own ambitions.