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September 22, 2015
Google (GOOG) recently hired a number of engineers and consumer electronics experts from Amazon’s (AMZN) famed Lab126 research and development facility to work on a new wearable initiative code-named Project Aura, according to a Business Insider report.
Project Aura–not to be confused with Google’s Project Ara modular smartphone–is said to have begun last June with a focus on reinvigorating the vendor’s Glass eyewear technology and stepping up its overall wearable efforts, the report said.
According to Business Insider, LinkedIn profiles and job listings describe Project Aura as “Google Glass and Beyond.”
Nest boss Tony Fadell will oversee the project with day-to-day direction residing with Ivy Ross, who previously led the Glass team.
The initiative reportedly won’t be folded under Google’s new Alphabet holding company or the Nest smart appliance division but will remain part of Google, according to the report.
Google’s new talent may have come from Amazon’s recent firing of dozens of engineers who worked on the online retail giant’s poorly-received Fire smartphone in the Lab126 operation. The layoffs, said to be confined to the 3,000 person Lab126 unit, are the first in its history, reports said.
Amazon also is said to have curtailed other Lab126 projects, including a 14-inch tablet dubbed Project Cairo, a smart stylus code-named Nitro, and an image projecting device called Shimmer. Still under development is a smart home hub called Kabinet that can process voice commands and a Kindle e-reader battery that could retain a charge for up to two years, the report said.
Lab126, founded in 2004, has come out of the shadows, with word surfacing late last year that Amazon would pour some $55 million into the operation, recruiting developers to work on new smart home automation projects and boosting overall employment at two facilities by some 800 people over the next five years.
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