Google’s Sundar Pichai on the Metaverse: AR, Immersive





Compared to Meta, Microsoft, Niantic, and a slew of other metaverse announcements, Google has been very quiet about its augmented reality plans in general. In a recent interview, Sundar Pichai gave his take on the metaverse, but positioned Google’s future as a continuation of Search’s core mission.

Interviewed by Bloomberg’s Emily Chang, the CEO was asked for his thoughts on Google’s metaverse and strategy. Pichai did not answer the second question explicitly, but began:

“It has always been clear to me that computers will adapt over time to people than people who adapt to computers. You won’t always interact with computers in a black rectangle in front of you. So, just as you talk to people, see, and interact, computers will become more immersive. They will be there when you need them. So I’ve always been excited about the future of immersive computing, ambient computing, AR.”

Immersion was also a quality of the metaverse touted by Mark Zuckerburg. When pressed for what exactly the metaverse will be, Pichai said:

“The way I think about it is evolving computing in an immersive way with augmented reality.”

He went on to acknowledge that there will be many experiences as part of it, including “immersive, interactive virtual worlds.”

The latter is Facebook/Meta’s current goal for building software and hardware. This interview did not yield a comparable roadmap for Google’s ambitions in the area beyond Pichai, reiterating that computers — especially aid — will be available everywhere in the future (ambient computing), while explicitly touting AR as part of that.

Following steps from the major tech players, it emerged last week that a new “Google Labs” group is now overseeing the company’s augmented reality work. Google has been very quiet about its work in AR. It has smart eyewear expertise from the remnants of Glass (Enterprise) and the acquisition of North, but is otherwise very goofy about hardware developments. In terms of software, it focuses on Lens and Maps Live View.

As for what Google is currently interested in, the rest of the Bloomberg interview shows that the company is still very focused on search. Pichai believes that “search is our greatest success as a company.” It’s not the first time he’s said Google’s mission statement is “timeless.”

“People will want radically more conversational experiences. They want what we call multimodal experiences. They can speak to search. They can look at something and ask what the information is. Being able to adapt to all that and further develop the search remains the greatest opportunity.”

This speaks to Assistant as the voice interface for various smart devices, while Google Lens covers visual search. The latter is currently limited to smartphones, but will really shine on glasses.

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