Google Labs has produced some of the greatest innovations for the tech giant including Maps, Reader, Trends, Alerts, Sheets, and Groups among others. Back in 2011, it shuttered the brand, under the notion that it was prioritizing its product efforts, according to Bill Coughran, the senior vice president of research and systems infrastructure at that time.
Now, it would seem we’ve come full circle, and Google is “streamlining” its offerings once more by combining its AR and VR efforts, Project Starline, and even its in-house incubator, Area 120, into a new brand. Can you guess what the new brand name is? Why, it’s Google Labs, of course! The report comes via TechCrunch who confirmed this information with Google directly, even though the company hadn’t yet announced anything publicly.
For now, the official original Google Labs website is still a dead end since it shut down, and the new Labs branding will not be as consumer-facing as its predecessor, so it’s likely to take on another form at the company. In addition to the Augmented reality and virtual reality projects that it’s “thinking through”, Google’s 3D life-sized video calling booth (Starline) as well as the offshoot known as Area 120 that’s responsible for bringing you Tables, ThreadIt, Stack, Museletter, Gamesnacks, and even the long-gone but reincarnated Rivet kids reading app.
The new Google Labs will be led by one Clay Bavor, a Googler who’s worked extensively on Starline. He’ll be responsible for overseeing the high-level success of each of these labs projects, and will apparently report directly to Google and Alphabet’s CEO Sundar Pichai.
“Clay has taken on an expanded role. His work will focus on long-term technology projects that are in direct support of our core products and businesses,”Google Spokesperson to TechCrunch
All of this to state that Google clearly wants to do AR and VR properly, and has some idea of how to innovate in these spaces on a level that has not yet been attempted. It’s clear that they aren’t just jumping in the mix and copying everyone else, especially since it’s been guilty of doing that in the past with things like Daydream. I’m excited to see what they produce, and by extension, how my favorite Area 120 projects evolve with more focused management!