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Google may have brought its AR glasses project back from the dead

The glasses may have a fair amount of Google Assistant integration.

Published onOctober 19, 2023

Google IO 2022 smart glasses
  • An APK teardown of the Google app hints that Google may have renewed work on its AR glasses project.
  • The code reveals references to the codename “iris” and device gestures.
  • The code also suggests the smart glasses could be used for Google Assistant actions.

We often see Google cancel projects and products alike. You can even check out our Killed by Google list to see all the things the company has pivoted away from. Something we don’t see nearly as much of is the tech giant reviving an old project. But it looks like Google may have renewed its efforts on the discontinued wearable known as Project Iris.

It's important to note that an APK teardowns only provide hints at what could come in the future. There's no guarantee that products or features referenced in a teardown will ever make it to the public.

In an APK teardown of the latest beta for the Google app, the folks over at 9to5Google spotted something interesting. It appears there is a string of code in the app that references “iris” and gestures you can use to activate Google Assistant. There also seemed to be code suggesting there could be actions like calling friends or setting timers.

<string name=”assistant_bisto_oobe_iris_finish_setup_description_no_hotword”>Just touch & hold the right temple to talk to your Assistant.</string>

The outlet rules out the possibility of iris referring to Sony’s LinkBuds, which uses a similar temple-touching gesture to bring up Assistant. They confirmed that iris refers to devices Google has given the “iris_device” attribute, which suggests this is Google hardware or AR glasses in general.

Back in June, reports suggested that Google had given up on Project Iris after experiencing difficulties including layoffs, reshuffles, and the departure of Google’s chief of augmented and virtual reality. It was also said that Google was shifting its focus to creating a “micro XR” platform designed for AR glasses that it would then license out to manufacturers, similar to its mobile OS.

However, two employees who worked on the project said Google may resurrect Project Iris one day. They also claimed that some teams within the company were still experimenting with the technology.

It’s unknown whether Google is committed enough to turn Project Iris turn a product for the public. But this discovery shows that the company has not forgotten about it.

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