Google has reportedly purchased a new startup that specializes in smart glasses, in what might be a move to bring its Glass product back to life. Smart glasses have changed over the years. When they started in 2013 they were viewed as a tech for multi-tasking, like answering the phone while checking your emails. Today, they have shifted more towards mixed reality use cases and the Metaverse.
The most advanced smart glasses in the market can mirror a user’s phone, accommodate augmented and virtual reality experiences, and even serve advanced industry professionals. Microsoft, with its Hololens, appeals to the professional sector, Facebook‘s Ray-Ban Stories appeal to social media users, and Apple, with its secretive smart glass project, seems to be out to conquer normal users.
Related: Meet On Glass Shows How There’s Still A Place For Google’s AR Glasses
Google acquired Raxium, according to The Information. Raxium is a new startup that’s developing what many see as a disruptive technology for smart glasses, microLED displays. Google plans to integrate this new technology into its products, according to the report. Google’s AR headsets, or new versions of Glass, are expected to be powered by a custom-made chip, and this would allow for a wide range of abilities. While the official cost of the acquisition was not disclosed, the deal is understood to be valued at around $1 billion.
The Evolution And The Revolution Of Glass
Google has been in and out of the smart glass and headset business for almost a decade. In 2013, the company released a limited-availability product called Glass Explorer. In 2014, the product was made available to the wider public. The high price, selling at $1,500, heavy design, limited features, and privacy concerns soon ended production. In 2017 and 2019, Glass reappeared but aimed to target the professional market, and did not have great success.
While Glass did include AR and VR capabilities, how to connect these technologies with everyday users was still, and is still, taking form. Today, the concept of the Metaverse, embraced by Meta in its own way, and being developed by many of the ‘Big Tech’ companies is rapidly taking over as the ‘new-next thing.’ The idea is to merge virtual worlds with the real world seamlessly and smart glasses could be the perfect technology to get that done.
Smart glasses have faced criticism over their lack of high resolution, poor colors, and luminosity. That’s where Raxium comes in, with the company claiming to build the world’s highest performance ultra-high-density RGB µLED displays. The tech is very small, and while these displays are too expensive for big screens, they could be perfect for smart glasses. They are 1000 times brighter in nits, are 50% more power-efficient, and have 3D light field and high-resolution depths. This time around, Google may just have the key to making smart glasses a global success.