Microsoft: Hololens optics chief joins Google for new AR hardware
The signs that Google could soon launch a new attempt with AR glasses are growing stronger: With Hololens optics engineer Bernard Kress, Google is gaining an industry icon.
Kress had worked as an optics architect in Microsoft's augmented reality division since December 2015. In his role, he was heavily involved in the development of Hololens glasses. Here, he was responsible for wearing and viewing comfort, immersion as well as interfaces and integrations of optical subsystems. He also had a focus on cost reduction for mass production of complex optical subsystems.
Kress works at Google on new AR hardware for consumers
At Google, Kress started back in November 2021 as director of optical engineering for an unspecified AR hardware for consumers. He made the information about his job change public today.
Kress is already recruiting new colleagues: "If you are eager to learn about the future of Augmented Reality and are looking for an exciting engineering position at one of the best companies to work for, look no further and join us at Google!"
According to Kress, Google is "best positioned along the key players in this market to effectively address the burgeoning consumer AR market by matching its existing and acclaimed digital services and products to next-generation optics, displays and sensors technologies, providing a seamless and unparalleled experience to the user."
Kress' return to Google is a fresh start: the optics expert worked on Google Glass from 2011 to 2015 before joining Microsoft.
Google needs to position itself: Meta, Microsoft and Apple are on the rise
Should Kress work for Google on AR glasses, a change of mind has taken place with him since 2019: At the time, Kress told me that even Hololens 3 won't be for the consumer market. Previous attempts, he said, had "failed miserably." However, he did not rule out consumer glasses "in a few years" - and even then said that Apple had ready-made AR glasses, but was still looking for convincing software.
Kress' move to Google is another clear indication that Google is again working more intensively on AR hardware or glasses. The company has been looking for AR experts in various fields for months and is developing an augmented reality operating system under the leadership of former Oculus team-lead
With ARCore for Android, AR navigation in Maps, Google Lens, and 3D search, Google has interesting and technically advanced software offerings at the start, but they are still tied to the smartphone.
Google seemed disillusioned with tech glasses after the Glass and Daydream VR flops, but it will have to position itself if Meta is successful with Project Cambria and Apple with Apple Vision (?). Microsoft will sooner or later follow suit with Hololens 3. Advantage for Google: Here Kress should already know the plans in detail.
Apple's entry into AR is said to have already made Google rethink once: in 2017, the launch of Apple's smartphone AR software is said to have buried Google's VR ambitions.
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