Magic Leap is Google’s new mystery partner for the XR Headphones

Google Glass and Magic Leap were among the biggest tech flops of the past decade — but can their core ideas support something worthy and new? We may find out because Google and Magic Leap now have a “multi-faceted strategic technology partnership” designed to “enhance the future of the XR ecosystem through unique and innovative product offerings.”

It’s not at all clear what the deal entails, however Press release Magic Leap repeatedly prides itself on Magic Leap’s optics and manufacturing expertise – expertise that it claims produces “high-precision eyepieces with incredibly high production rates and quality at scale.” (IIRC, the company itself has never shipped a headset with an MSRP of less than $2,000 and has never shared sales numbers, so “size” may be relative.)

The mystery glasses prototype that Google showed off briefly at I/O.
Image: Google

Many leading technology companies pursuing lightweight glasses reportedly find their optical components difficult to develop and expensive to produce, and are just dipping their toes in the water while they figure it out — like Apple with its heavy, expensive $3,500 Vision Pro glasses , or Meta with her glasses. Passthrough mode in the Quest 3 or the lightweight Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses that have no screen at all but Do You have a generative AI voice assistant. (Speaking of generative AI, it also sucks a lot of air out of a VR/AR/XR room.)

But maybe Magic Leap has a technology or patent that Google thinks will help it win the race to truly smart glasses?

If so, I don’t expect to find out any time soon. Google also signed a mysterious deal with Samsung and Qualcomm to produce a headset in February 2023, and we haven’t heard anything about it from those companies since then – although rumors suggest it could arrive by the end of 2024 and it could be. It was unveiled alongside the upcoming Galaxy Z Flip and Fold phones.

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