Mark Lucovsky (pictured), Google’s senior director of engineering, operating systems, AR, has stepped down from his role at the American tech giant, claiming that the company was wavering on its commitment to Augmented Reality (AR).
Lucovsky rejoined Google in December 2021 having previously worked at the firm as engineering director between 2004-2009 and adds to a range of challenges facing the company’s AR department.
I have decided to step away from my role at Google, where I was Senior Director of Engineering, responsible for OS and Software Platform for AR and XR devices. The recent changes in AR leadership and Google’s unstable commitment and vision have weighed heavily on my decision.
— mark lucovsky (@marklucovsky) July 10, 2023
Google’s AR team was reportedly hit with a wave of layoffs late last month, according to three anonymous sources who spoke to Insider. As a result, the company decided to can further development of its AR headset, codenamed Project Iris, which had been in the works for several years.
The result of Project Iris was purported to be a pair of Android-powered “ski goggles.” Instead, the company switched its focus to developing AR and extended reality software, rather than hardware. In March, it also killed the enterprise version of its Google Glass AR headset and announced it would completely end support for the smart spectacles in September.
Google’s head of VR, Clay Bevor also upped sticks in February to start an AI company with former Meta chief technology officer Bret Taylor. Google confirmed to The Verge that it would not be replacing Bevor.
In June last year, however, Google appeared to be all in on augmented reality glasses and even touted their potential as a future advert delivery medium.
“These prototypes will include in-lens displays, microphones and cameras – but they’ll have strict limitations on what they can do,” wrote Google product manager Justin Payne on the company blog.
The glasses were said to have been able to translate menus or show directions to a nearby coffee shop, for example. It even released a moving promotional video to show its potential to break down language barriers.
A few years ago, Google was regularly touting the potential of AR for shopping and ad experiences. However, it has more recently switched its focus to artificial intelligence as a means to get consumers to part more reliably with their money.
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