Mark Zuckerberg just confirmed Facebook will release its long-awaited AR smart glasses
[July 29, 2021: Josh Shavit]
During their recent earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally confirmed Facebook’s take into the smart-eyewear industry, however no time “frames” were given for an expected release. When released, Facebook will partner with Ray-Ban and EssilorLuxottica to deliver smart glasses that will, “do some pretty neat things” and “have an iconic form factor”, according to Zuckerberg.
Essilor was a company purchased by Luxottica, a luxury goods conglomerate that owns many eyewear companies such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, and Vogue Eyewear. Previously, Luxottica had done a collaboration with Google in the making of the Google Glass, which was a disappointment in the industry.
Rumored to be developed back in 2019, the project was nicknamed “Orion” and was aimed at being a full-fledged smartphone replacement. Facebook has confirmed in the past that they will have no integrated display and will is intended on being an augmented-reality device.
Many unanswered questions surround project Orion, such as how it would be controlled with no integrated display as well as the official price. It is also unknown if Facebook will include a voice assistant, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, or Apple’s Siri to help navigate.
It is important to note that Facebook already owns, VR and AR industry titan, Oculus who they purchased back in 2014 for $2.3 billion. Their two products, the Rift S (intended for high-power PCs) and the Quest 2 (Personal Use VR Headset) contain technology that could be implemented into Orion.
One similar product is Snapchat’s Snap Spectacles which are glasses that allow you to record short videos and upload them to Snapchat. Amazon’s take, the Echo Frames, contain small speakers embedded into the frame of the glasses that allow for music consumption as well as microphones that help you talk to Alexa. Bose has a pair of glasses called the Bose Frames that also have small speakers. It is unclear how similar project Orion will be to these industry-competing rivals, but what is certain is Zuckerberg’s vision for the future with the glasses. He said that he wants Facebook to become “a metaverse company”.
An ambitious goal, the metaverse is his vision of combining a virtual world into the normal world as well as being able to live in a virtual world using previous research from Project Aria. Aria’s goal was to help develop private spaces using 3D technology and is similar to the way Microsoft developed the Hololense. Zuckerberg says that he also said that the price will be affordable to be able to sell to the mass market.
With all of the recent “fails” that have taken place in this industry, Zuckerberg hopes to bring Facebook's AR and VR to the mainstream and really change the way we view the virtual world. The way Microsoft and Google haven’t.
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