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September 17, 2015

Google drops Glass for Aura, brings Amazon experts in

Company revamps virtual reality projects to compete against Facebook, Apple and Microsoft.

By Joao Lima

Google has renamed its Glass wearable project as Aura, while also bringing on board Amazon Lab126 consumer electronics experts as it enters a new stage of development.

Google’s Project Aura started in June, but only now has the company revealed the new name.

The eyeglasses and other wearables project will not be run as an independent company and will remain part of Google, an arm of the recent created Alphabet.

At least three Amazon’s Lab126 employees have been employed by the search engine company. Dmitry Svetlov, former Lab126 employee and now software development manager at Aura, wrote on his LinkedIn profile that the team is working on "building cool wearables" and the new project is "Glass and beyond".

In January this year, Google halted production of its smartglass prototype, signalling an end to the Explorer programme which enabled software developers to buy Glass for $1,500.

In March, Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive director insisted that the company had not abandoned the Glass project.

Speaking to the WSJ, he explained that Google had not shelved what is "a big and very fundamental platform" for the company.

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"We ended the Explorer programme and the press conflating this into us cancelling the whole project, which isn’t true," Schmidt said.

"Google is about taking risks and there’s nothing about adjusting Glass that suggests we’re ending it."

The first version of the Google Glass technology became available in April 2013 in the US for a limited period. In May 2014, the wearable was made widely available to the consumer market.

Google recently announced plans to design a smart contact lenses.

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