The futuristic Google Glass augmented reality specs never found many buyers at all in the consumer market, but perhaps they were just ahead of their time. Now a new Google acquisition suggests more devices in this line could soon be on the way.
As reported by The Information, Google has picked up hardware startup Raxium, a small company that deals in developing microLEDs for AR – those are the microscopic, next-gen LEDs that offer better color and contrast with less of a power draw (they're already appearing in expensive kit like Samsung's The Wall).
The terms of the deal have not been officially disclosed, but a figure in the region of $1 billion has been floated. Raxium hasn't yet produced a hardware device of its own, but has been operating for five years at this point.
While it's difficult to know for sure, it would seem that the Raxium purchase is an indication that Google is still serious about being involved in AR hardware – and we could potentially see another version of Google Glass show up further down the line.
Owning operations like the one that Raxium runs gives Google more control over the components that might go into a future pair of AR glasses. We've seen this with the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro too, smartphones that run on a processor developed by Google rather than by a third party.
We'll have to wait and see if and when another version of Google Glass makes an appearance. The specs have found some success in being sold to businesses, but a breakthrough in the consumer market still seems a way off.
Analysis: AR is coming
This news hasn't come completely out of the blue, it's worth noting: earlier this year we heard rumors that Google was working on another pair of smart specs, and several signs point to the idea that Google has by no means abandoned this product category.
After several false starts, it would seem that we're soon going to see the AR specs market take off. Rumours of a pair of AR/VR specs from Apple have been swirling for years – in fact it's one of the longest-running Apple rumors at this point – and when Apple launches a product, you know that product category has arrived.
The same issues remain: it's difficult to pack a lot of useful tech into so small a space, there are plenty of people who don't want to go around wearing something on their face, and there are privacy and security implications too. Add to that the high price of this emerging technology and it's not hard to see why there hasn't been much progress so far.
However, tech companies are getting better at improving their hardware year on year, as shown by the emergence of the microLED panels that Raxium specializes in. We're hoping for something affordable and reasonably stylish in the not-too-distant future.
Via Android Police
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Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.