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(Pocket-lint) - Google is reportedly developing an augmented reality headset.

It sounds like the project is just getting started, but that doesn't mean Google is still a long way off from releasing a product that consumers can buy. Here's what you need to know.

What is Project Iris?

According to The Verge, which cited two unnamed sources, Google is building an AR headset as part of an effort codenamed Project Iris. Its development is currently underway at a San Francisco Bay Area facility. Google has tasked some of the Google Pixel team with working on the headset, with a total of 300 people supposedly working on Project Iris altogether.

Google’s Clay Bavor is leading the project. He has experience working on Google Cardboard, Google Daydream, and even the Project Starline demo shown off at Google I/O 2021.

What does Project Iris feature for specs?

Project Iris features outward-facing cameras that blend virtual imagery with real-world surroundings.

It'll likely be powered by a custom Google processor, and, of course, it will run on Android. Interestingly, it reportedly won't require a tethered connection to a power source, and to assist with processing power, Google intends to use data centers to remotely render graphics and transmit them over the internet.

When will Project Iris launch?

Although Google's AR headset is thought to be in early development, it reportedly could start shipping as early as 2024 alongside Project Starline.

Why is Google developing Project Iris?

The target uses cases are not quite clear. But the company is likely building an AR headset because it wants to keep up with its rivals, such as Meta, Microsoft, Magic Leap, and Apple, all of which are active in the AR and virtual reality space. Let's also not forget that the new buzzword for 2022 is "metaverse" - thanks to many of these same companies that are either quietly or publicly developing hardware that would allow consumers to access a shared virtual world for gaming, social activity, play, and even work and meetings.

If we had to guess, Google wants a piece of the metaverse pie and knows Project Iris is one of the first steps it can take to ensure it doesn't get left behind.

Project Iris: All the leaks, news, and rumours to date

Below is a timeline of everything known so far about Project Iris.

20 January 2022 - Google is building an AR headset

Project Iris could see Google go up against Meta and Apple.

Writing by Maggie Tillman.