For those hoping that Facebook’s next immersive piece of hardware would be an Oculus Quest Pro, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed that rather than a new virtual reality (VR) headset its smart glasses route was next. As part of Facebook’s recent Q2 earnings call this month Zuckerberg said that the company’s smart glasses collaboration with Ray-Ban would mark the next hardware arrival.
“Looking ahead here, the next product release will be the launch of our first smart glasses from Ray-Ban
in partnership with Essilor Luxottica,” Zuckerberg remarked. “The glasses have their iconic form factor, and they let you do some pretty neat things. I’m excited to get these into people’s hands and to continue to make progress on the
journey towards full augmented reality glasses in the future.”
While he does say augmented reality (AR) these Ray-Ban glasses won’t be a Facebook version of Microsoft HoloLens or even Facebook’s own research hardware Project Aria. The design will likely be much closer to Snapchat Spectacles with basic functionality geared towards taking photos. Currently, nothing has been shown of these upcoming smart glasses or what the feature set will be, just that a launch should be taking place this year.
Project Aria is the company’s main AR development revealed so far, unveiled as part of Facebook Connect in 2020. This is much closer to others in this field, providing a digital experience overlaying the real world. One which you can connect to your smartphone and then operate it completely hands-free. The eventual goal would be like current mixed reality (MR) devices for enterprise, a completely self-contained device. For consumers at the moment, devices like Rokid Air or Nreal Light are the closest they’ll get.
The Ray-Ban smart glasses will be another stepping stone towards Zuckerberg’s much talked about vision for the metaverse, a virtual world everyone can connect in no matter the hardware they own. He reiterated this in the earnings call saying: “You’re going to be able to access the metaverse from all different devices in different levels of fidelity —
from apps on phones and PCs to immersive virtual and augmented reality devices. Within the metaverse, you’re going to be able to hang out, play games with friends, work, create, and more. The defining quality of the metaverse is presence – which is this feeling that you’re really there with another person or in another place.”
As Facebook has already held its F8 developer conference in June it’s likely that Facebook Connect in September will be used to reveal the smart glasses. For further updates on those AR plans, keep reading VRFocus.