Google top AR exec blasts the company’s ‘unstable commitment’ as he resigns

A high-profile director leading Google’s augmented reality efforts has left the company—and took no time to blast his former employer.

Mark Lucovsky, the former head of operating systems on the search engine’s augmented reality team, hit out at “Google’s unstable commitment and vision” as he announced his departure on Twitter.

“The recent changes in AR leadership and Google’s unstable commitment and vision have weighed heavily on my decision,” he wrote on Monday.

Lucovsky was hired by Google in late 2021 to build an operating system and software for the company’s smart glasses, codenamed Project Iris, and other augmented reality devices.

The Verge first reported on the existence of Project Iris in January 2022, describing the device like a pair of ski goggles.  However, it later emerged that the “ski goggles” were actually a collaboration with Samsung, while Iris was a series of devices more closely resembling regular glasses.

But a recent report from Insider has revealed that Google has shelved its Project Iris plans to focus on building augmented reality software that it hopes to license to other manufacturers building headsets instead.

Now Google reportedly aspires to be the “Android for AR,” focusing on software rather than hardware, but the constant change in strategy in recent years has frustrated many workers—including Lucovsky, whose last day at Google was June 30.

“Moving forward, I am eager to explore opportunities that allow me to further advance Augmented Reality technology and its intersection with generative AI,” he explained. “I approach the next chapter with enthusiasm and anticipation for the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.”

Lucovsky is a well-respected name in the tech industry with prior experience at Microsoft and Facebook where he helped build the Windows NT operating system and served as the general manager of Oculus VR.

But the competition to find another role in the industry will be fierce, with Apple’s Vision Pro and Meta’s Quest 3 both already well on their way to the market. 

A string of departures at Google

Lucovsky’s departure is one of many in recent months at Google’s augmented reality team, following a round of layoffs and the resignation of Google’s former head of virtual reality, Clay Bavor. 

Bavor, a Google veteran who worked at the company for almost 2 decades, left the company to launch an artificial intelligence venture with former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor.

“We share an obsession with recent advances in A.I., and we’re excited to build a new company to apply A.I. to solve some of the most important problems in business,” Bavor wrote in a Linkedin post earlier this year.

But it’s yet to be known whether Lucovsky will join forces with Bavor once again at his start-up.

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