On Tuesday, CNBC reported that Facebook has partnered with Ray-Ban’s parent company Luxottica to develop a smart glasses product. The social media firm has big ambitions for its new initiative; the firm wants its augmented reality (AR) headset to replace smartphones. Currently, the firm hopes to release a pair of AR Ray-Bans between 2023 in 2025.
Facebook’s Smart Glasses Project
According to CNBC, Facebook has had a smart glasses project, codenamed Orion, on its roadmap for some time now. The social media firm’s Redmond, Washington based Facebook Reality Labs unit has spent years developing a headset that can answer calls, display information, and let users live-stream their POV. Moreover, the facility has been working on an artificial intelligence voice assistant to serve as an input for the AR glasses.
The laboratory has also been working on a companion ring peripheral that would act as an alternate Orion input.
However, the social media company has struggled to design an AR wearable in a size and form factor that would appeal to consumers. Hence, Facebook has entered into a partnership with Luxottica in hopes that the eyewear firm can succeed where it failed.
Notably, this isn’t the first time Luxottica has worked on an AR headset. Back in 2014, the company collaborated with Google to release its Google Glass device. Obviously, that did not go as planned.
Though the Big Tech firm has set a long development timeline for the new product, CNBC notes that it is one of great importance. Indeed, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly asked hardware head Andrew Bosworth to prioritize Orion.
The Smart Glasses Resurgence
Whenever Facebook makes an official entry into the smart glasses market, it’ll be joining a competitive field.
In August, The Burn-In reported that Apple revived its own long-awaited AR headset project. Then, earlier this week, the firm invested $250 million into Gorilla Glass maker Corning. Though it’s unknown what new projects the two companies are working on, it would make sense for the Big Tech firm to task its display supplier to craft its smart eyewear as well.
Besides, Facebook’s rival social media company Snapchat is continuing its AR wearable project. Since 2016, the firm has released a line of online-enabled sunglasses called Spectacles. In November, Snap will release the third iteration of the product, which will allow users to capture images in 3D.
Furthermore, Microsoft will release a new version of its HoloLens headset later this year. Though the device is somewhat of an eyesore, reviewers have been impressed with its technical capabilities. The wearable allows users to capture high definition images and project them in their field of vision as startlingly lifelike holograms. However, at $3,500 per unit, the HoloLens 2 isn’t exactly consumer-friendly.
Controversial Chinese electronics conglomerate Huawei is also preparing to release a pair of smart glasses. In tandem with luxury eyewear company Gentle Monster, the corporation designed a fashionable wearable that can take calls and has a built-in voice agent. However, as opposed to most online-enabled headsets, the firm’s glasses don’t have a camera.
Despite the increasingly competitive status of the smart eyewear field, Facebook is wise to diversify its brand. Its social media product is still struggling with major privacy issues, its Libra cryptocurrency is facing significant pushback from world governments, and its new dating feature is just plain creepy.