If you're keen to experience augmented reality through a device that fits on your face, you could soon have another gadget to consider: Google is said to be developing a new generation of pair of AR-capable smart specs.
The tidbit comes from a report in The New York Times (opens in new tab) (via 9to5Google (opens in new tab)), which mentions that the company is "nurturing a new project" in the smart glasses category. However, we don't get too many other details about the product.
What we do know is that Google picked up Canadian startup North last year, the company responsible for the Focals smart glasses, and the new eyewear is apparently being developed as a result of that acquisition.
Wait and see
Of course Google Glass has been around since way back in 2013, so this isn't a completely new venture for Google – though it sounds like the latest AR specs that are in development will get new capabilities and perhaps a new name too.
Last month Google was advertising job roles to work on a new "Augmented Reality OS", and those listings also mentioned an "innovative AR device" in the pipeline at the company. This isn't a rumor that's come out of nowhere.
North was teasing a second generation of its Focals specs before it got acquired by Google, but it doesn't sound as though a launch for this product is particularly close – we'll just have to wait and see what 2022 brings.
Analysis: Google and Apple go head to head again
As the article in the NYT points out, plenty of companies are busy working on gadgets that promise new augmented reality and virtual reality capabilities. In particular, we've been hearing a lot of rumors about a pair of Apple AR glasses that may be making an appearance at some point in 2022 and 2023.
If Google pushes out a new AR product at the same time then the two tech giants will be going head to head in yet another area: they already compete in terms of smartphones, mapping applications, smart speakers, streaming music services, fitness platforms and plenty more besides.
Meta – the company previously known as Facebook – is heavily involved here too, and wants us all in the metaverse sooner rather than later. Meta has already pushed out a basic pair of smart glasses called the Ray-Ban Stories, which are able to make calls and take photos and videos (see also the Snapchat Spectacles).
The next wave of AR specs should go a lot further, overlaying digital elements on top of the real, physical world in front of your eyes. Whether or not a substantial number of people can be tempted into buying a pair, however, remains to be seen – which was a major stumbling block for previous versions of Google Glass.