Google and Magic Leap announce Augmented Reality partnership

Google and Magic Leap announce Augmented Reality partnership

Google and augmented reality start-up Magic Leap join forces to form a strategic technology partnership.


Google and augmented reality company Magic Leap have formed a strategic partnership. This was announced by both companies in a press release. The details of the collaboration are still unclear, but Magic Leap emphasized that the partnership will combine Magic Leap's expertise in optics and device manufacturing with Google's technology platforms.

"We've shipped a couple of different versions of augmented reality devices so far, so we're out there delivering things, and Google has a long history of platforms thinking," Magic Leap Chief Technology Officer Julie Larson-Green told Reuters. "So we're thinking, putting our expertise and their expertise together, there's lots of things we could end up doing."


From AR darling to near-bankruptcy and back again?

The two companies were already working together on AR software for the Google Cloud in 2021. Google is also an investor in Magic Leap, which is majority owned by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

The Florida-based startup attracted big-name partners and big investments early on, and released two promising AR headsets, Magic Leap 1 and Magic Leap 2. So far, however, Magic Leap has not been able to live up to the high expectations and got in serious trouble.

After a wave of layoffs, the company realigned itself. Instead of serving consumers, Magic Leap is now focusing on the B2B market and trying to license its technology and manufacture components for other companies. Meta reportedly wanted to work with Magic Leap on a joint AR headset.


Google takes a new approach to AR

Google's XR strategy has been very opaque for years, and has been characterized by numerous supposed redirections. After the Google Glass flop, Google was reportedly working on another pair of data glasses, but development was stopped in early 2023. Instead, the XR Android was to be developed.

Meanwhile, leading AR experts like Clay Bavor, Marc Lucovsky, and Paul Greco left the company and Google made numerous layoffs in AR hardware in early 2024. So Google seems to be serious about Android for XR making its main focus.

After competitor Meta reportedly turned down a partnership with Google in which Meta would use Android XR as the operating system for its Quest headset in exchange for access to key Google apps, it now appears that major hardware partners have been found in the form of Samsung, Qualcomm, and Magic Leap. Samsung and Google are working on a joint mixed reality headset that could be released by the end of 2024. Google also unveiled Project Astra, a prototype smart glasses with an AI assistant, at this year's I/O.

Sources: Magic Leap