Samsung and Google are collaborating on an Extended Reality (XR) headset, internally codenamed “Project Moohan”. This initiative comes after Google's decision to abandon its Augmented Reality glasses under Project Iris. Sources close to the project's development have expressed concerns about its readiness to compete with Apple's Vision Pro, even by 2024. The project's secretive nature has led to internal tensions, with Google's in-house hardware teams being kept in the dark.
Samsung's involvement in the project has been characterized by a tight grip over the XR headset's development. This control has led to a lack of clear leadership in the project's direction, according to sources. Recent reports suggest that Samsung has delayed the headset's launch due to concerns about its ability to rival Apple's Vision Pro. Google employees have echoed these sentiments, with one staffer mentioning to Business Insider, that the headset “definitely doesn't provide enough buffer to come close to the Vision Pro”. A former employee told Business Insider that “Google's problem with hardware fundamentally is they have a hard time with that type of product consistency”.
Google's Separate XR Software Efforts
While the joint project with Samsung continues, Google is also working on its own AR glasses software. This software, known as the Micro XR software project, is being tested on monocular glasses codenamed “Betty” and a binocular version named “Barry.” Insiders have indicated that glasses equipped with Google's XR software might be available by 2025. Google's leadership is actively seeking partners for this software, with Samsung being a potential candidate.
Past Endeavors and Future Plans
Google made previous efforts with the Iris smart glasses, which aimed to integrate services like Google Maps. However, frequent changes in product direction led to dissatisfaction among employees. One individual stated that “every six months there was a major pivot in the program”. Following the cancellation of Iris, Google shifted its focus to Project Moohan in collaboration with Samsung. Despite the challenges, Google remains committed to the future of smart glasses, with ongoing software development and potential partnerships on the horizon.
Apple Vision Pro
Apple´s Vision Pro is a mixed reality headset the company unveiled at WWDC 2023 earlier this year. A Headset for Both AR and VR Experiences It lets users enjoy both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) content on a single device, thanks to VisionOS, a new operating system that is built on iOS and designed for mixed reality.
Users can switch between AR and VR modes depending on what they want to see and do. In AR mode, users can overlay digital content on their real surroundings, while in VR mode, users can immerse themselves in a completely virtual world.
The Vision Pro runs on two chipsets that enable its mixed reality performance: an M2 chip and a new R1 chip. The M2 chip is the same one that powers some of the best MacBooks and Macs and handles the traditional apps and features on the device. The R1 chip is a new co-processor that deals with the mixed-reality and sensor elements, such as tracking the user's head, eyes, hands, and voice.
Microsoft has announced that it will bring some of its popular productivity apps to the Apple Vision Pro AR headset. The apps include Word, Excel and Teams, which will allow users to create and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations, as well as collaborate and communicate with others in mixed reality.