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Bernard Kress

Bernard Kress, Director, XR Hardware, Google Augmented Reality Team

Bernard Kress, Director, XR Hardware, Google Augmented Reality Team

Bernard Kress has had an unrivalled view on developments in augmented reality (AR) over the past 10 years, having been the principal optical architect on the Google Glass project and subsequently the partner optical architect on the Hololens team at Microsoft. He rejoined Google in January 2022 as the director for XR (extended reality) engineering.

Kress, who has published several books on micro-optics and holds more than 50 patents,  believes that the display technologies needed for smart glasses and AR goggles are having a significant effect on photonics research. “Google’s approach towards minimal form factor smart glasses for consumers requires novel optics and display architectures that are different from those required to develop larger AR goggles or MR headsets such as Hololens, Magic Leap, or even Meta Quest headsets,” he said.

He believes the emphasis will be ‘on new architectures and fabrication technologies for optical combiners, both as free space and waveguides, as well as new display engine technologies, both scanning and panel-based, such as laser beam MEMS scanning RGB microLED panels’. In May, Google acquired Raxium, a five-year-old start-up that specialises in creating miniaturised, cost-effective, energy-efficient and high-resolution microLED displays.

However, Kress does not believe that the obstacles to consumer adoption of new use cases, such as contextual display in minimal form factor smart glasses and Metaverse immersive experiences in AR goggles, are technical alone. 

“Developing hardware solutions allowing for small form factor and small power display systems is required, but without a strong universal use case offer it will not lead to mass adoption,” he said. 

“Examples are numerous throughout the past decade, where state-of-the-art AR and MR (mixed reality) headsets have been developed and targeted towards the consumer, but have rather resonated only with enterprise and defence markets, leaving the consumer market still untouched as of today.”

Kress is equally even-handed when advising the photonics researchers of tomorrow: “Do not wait for the best offer, focus on your passion, seize the opportunity and run with your ideas. Start your career with entrepreneurship before entering ‘big tech’ industry. Also, get involved in various ways to help scientific societies as a parallel voluntary activity to your main academic or corporate activities. This can be very rewarding and can also become a great career boost and help provide stability in a career where changes and moves can be very frequent.”

He has the experience to back this up, citing his own moves from academia to entrepreneurship and then from entrepreneurship to industry and large corporations as a challenge he had to overcome. “Such career moves require a total brain rewiring to remain successful, even though the optics and photonic technologies remain the same,” he said. 

Throughout those career moves, he said he maintained ‘a constant focus on non-profit community service such as through the SPIE and other societies’. Kress is currently SPIE’s president-elect, taking office in 2023, as well as being a short-course instructor.

You can find Kress online at He plans to attend  Photonics West, where he will be course instructor on ‘Design Techniques and Applications Fields for Digital Micro-optics and Optical Technologies and Architectures for VR/AR/MR Head-mounted Displays’ and ‘Design Techniques and Applications Fields for Digital Micro-optics’, at the end of January 2023 and SPIE AR|VR|MR.

Organisation: Google, Augmented Reality Team

Role: Director, XR Hardware, 2023 President the International Society for Optics and Photonics (

Based in: Mountain View, Ca, USA

Education: PhD in Photonics and Habilitation to Direct Research (France)

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