Google is working on a new wearable technology effort known as Project Aura and is hiring consumer electronics experts from Amazon’s secretive Lab126.
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Google is working on a new wearable technology effort known as Project Aura and is hiring consumer electronics experts from Amazon’s secretive Lab126 to jump-start the new group. Project Aura appears to have gotten started in June and is focused on reviving Google’s troubled Glass computer eyeglasses, as well as accelerating Google’s efforts to develop related wearable technology.
Project Aura will remain within Google rather than being a standalone company under the new Alphabet holding company or being folded into the Nest smart appliances business, a source familiar with the matter told Business Insider. Nest CEO Tony Fadell will continue to have high-level oversight of the project, though it’s unclear what will happen after Nest becomes a separate Alphabet company, the source said. Ivy Ross, a fashion industry veteran that Google hired to lead the Glass team in 2014, is heading up the Aura group. Project Aura is not be be confused with Project Ara, Google’s modular phone concept.
Amazon’s Lab126 Experts are Now Google’s: Dima Svetlov, whose LinkedIn profile says he worked on Amazon’s TV streaming stick, joined Aura as a software development manager in May. Amir Frenke joined in June as a director of software development. Tina Chen left Lab126 in August after working on its TV streaming box and smart-home assistant, Echo, and now works as Aura’s manager of technical program management. Lab126, which makes consumer devices like Amazon’s Kindle e-readers, TV streaming products, and the ill-received Fire smartphone, reportedly laid off dozens of engineers who had worked on the phone earlier this summer. Svetlov, Frenke, and Chen, whose LinkedIn profiles don’t reveal any details about Project Aura besides the description that it works on Glass “and beyond,” are joining Apple veteran Max Ratner, who worked on the iPhone.
The project even has its own designated recruiter, Jessica Bailow, who has been focused on Aura since June, according to her LinkedIn profile. And Google recently posted several job openings for the Aura team, including a program manager for category development, an industrial designer and a UX designer. Business Insider also recently reported that Adrian Wong, the former Google Glass lead electrical engineer, who had defected to Facebook-owned virtual-reality startup Oculus, quietly rejoined Google in June. His LinkedIn profile describes his new job only as “building blocks” for Alphabet/Google.