Google defends its vision of virtual reality against the metaverse dear to Facebook

Scalded cat fears cold water. Google, which failed seven years ago when it attempted to launch augmented reality glasses , shows extreme caution on the terrain of the metaverse. On the contrary, this term was enthusiastically adopted by its rival Facebook, which went so far as to rename itself Meta.

The CEO of Alphabet, parent company of Google, prefers to speak of “use cases” for virtual and augmented reality, which would remain “anchored in the real world. Unlike other tech companies, “our efforts are more focused on the real world and how to increase it when people need it,” Sundar Pichai told a handful of European media, including “Les Echos.” »

Augmented Reality Street View

For now, these concrete applications remain relatively modest. During Google IO, the Californian company unveiled a feature called “scene exploration” – which could be translated as “explore your surroundings. In particular, it makes it possible to identify which products have certain characteristics on the shelves of a supermarket – a bar of dark chocolate without hazelnuts or almonds, for example.

Another application, called “Live View”, in Google Maps, allows you to superimpose an augmented reality layer on Street View images, in order to find your way more easily in an urban environment. This application allows, for example, to find the exact location of a bus stop in a complicated intersection.

Google imitates Snap

“The main goal is to help people find information,” explains Sundar Pichai. “Google Lens thus makes it possible to look at something and know what it is. You have a good bottle of wine in a restaurant, and you want to remember it later, for example. Or you are in a Korean restaurant and you want to know what is on the menu. »

This vision contrasts with that defended by Mark Zuckerberg, who bets on the contrary on the rise of interconnected virtual worlds, which he calls the metaverse. “We don’t want to distract people from the real world, we want the use of technology to be minimal,” says Alphabet’s CEO.

This speech is similar to that of the boss of Snap, Evan Spiegel, who also relies on some applications of the augmented reality , for online shopping for example. Google also revealed on Tuesday that 3D models of products will soon appear on Search, in the United States initially. “For example, it will be possible for a user to place a product such as a sofa virtually in his living room,” the company explains in a press release.

The return of Google Glass?

Despite the commercial failure of Google Glass, the Californian group does not give up putting augmented reality glasses on people’s noses. “When you’re on a bike, for example, you may need important information,” notes the CEO. “At times like this, pulling your cell phone out of your pocket isn’t always the right answer. »

During Google IO, Sundar Pichai unveiled an advanced prototype of connected glasses that can transcribe speech and translate it in real time. “Do I see possible applications for augmented reality glasses in ten years? I think the answer is yes,” continues the boss, cautiously. That doesn’t mean everyone will wear such glasses all the time, but “I see specific times when people will be able to wear such glasses and have useful experiences,” he said.

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Google defends its vision of virtual reality against the metaverse dear to Facebook

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