Here’s how Google is responding to the Metaverse hype

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Google is reorganizing in response to Facebook’s Metaverse plans and again focusing more on future projects such as VR and AR.

Two days before Facebook’s renaming to Meta and laying out a Metaverse vision reaching far into the future, Google CEO Sundar Pichai commented on his own strategy for the future – and kept it pretty vague.

“We looked closely at the long-term development of computer technology,” Pichai assured Google investors. Alphabet takes care of “all the major investments that need to be made,” Pichai said. He avoided the term metaverse.

Google Labs: a new department to create innovation

Now, news of Facebook’s realignment has reached Google as well. Techcrunch reports that the group has reorganized and created a new department under the working name “Google Labs”. innovative projects and long-term technology bets united under one roof. Google confirmed the restructuring to Techcrunch.

Google Labs’ name dates back to an innovation lab that existed from 2002 to 2011. It spawned many Google products, including Google Maps, Google Docs, and personalized web search.

Google's holo video chat

The Starline project presented in May aims to allow photorealistic telepresence, but it is technically very complex. | Image: Google

The new Google Labs will likely have a different structure as they work on secret, long-term projects. The department will include Google’s VR and AR projects, the Starline immersive phone booth (test) and the Area 120 internal incubator.

The department will be led by the Google veteran and Clay Bavor, longtime boss of virtual reality and augmented realitywho will report directly to Sundar Pichai.

Google invests in the future

The reorganization could be a response to Meta’s future strategy, which calls for astronomical investments in VR and AR technology over the next five to 10 years. This forces Google to look to the more distant future as well.

In a memo to employees, Google describes the restructuring as “focused on building and growing new areas of forward-looking investment across the company concentrate”.

The new team “will focus on extrapolating technology trends and building a number of high-potential, long-term projects.” They should support the most important Google products and core businesses.


VR and AR: Google’s troubled past

Google’s previous VR and AR projects have not been successful. With the Google Glass data glasses, the company was an early driver of innovation, but quickly buried the product after negative press and public reaction, only to bring it back to businesses years later. .

Apparently, the start of sales of data glasses for smartphones is underway

The North Focals were stylish and promising smart glasses. It is not known if Google will continue the project in another form. | Image: North

With Project Tango, Google wanted to establish an advanced AR platform for Android smartphones, which failed due to a lack of application scenarios and the reluctance of smartphone makers to integrate new sensors into their devices.

With the Google Cardboard cardboard glasses, Google has arguably harmed the VR industry more than it has helped it and after the flop of the Google Daydream and Lenovo Mirage Solo (test), the group largely left the VR market.

Google should act, not react

With ARCore, Google has developed the main AR interface for Android devices, which has recently become somewhat quiet again. It should only unfold its full potential with Google-branded AR glasses, but according to the current state of knowledge, this is not in sight. In the summer of 2020, Google bought up-and-coming data glasses maker North and stamped its product. It’s unclear whether the innovations will carry over to Google Glasses.

Google’s VR and AR strategy has three characteristics: it’s end-to-end reactive instead of proactiveshe closes deep investments in technologies and it is myopic. Projects are buried as quickly as they were born.

The group reacted to the advent of virtual reality with cardboard smartphone holders. Apple took Google by surprise with the ARKit AR interface, after which the group abandoned VR projects and switched to augmented reality. And now Google is reacting to outside influences again: Meta’s large-scale investment in future technologies.

Google has valid reasons not to believe in VR and AR. This will probably only change when other companies such as Meta or Apple disclose the potential of the technologies.

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