EO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has revealed the company’s next hardware product will be its smart-glasses collaboration with Ray-Ban. During the company’s earnings call, Zuckerberg stated:
“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”.
Zuckerberg did not go into detail about what these “neat things” would be, and reports about what the glasses would do have been inconsistent. In 2019, The Information and CNBC the glasses would allow users to take calls, show information in a small display, and live-stream their perspective to others on social media. However, Facebook has denied rumours about the integrated display and does not classify the device as an augmented reality product.
Facebook’s move into new hardware, specifically augmented and virtual reality with its Oculus product, is part of its path to becoming a ‘metaverse company’. The metaverse is a space that spans both physical and digital worlds where users can interact with other people and a fully functioning economy in real time. This could be through virtual or mixed reality, PCs, mobile devices, and game consoles that would all be connected.
In a recent interview, Zuckerberg had described it as an embodied internet and suggested that it could be an alternative to smart phones stating:
“Mobile phones kind of came around at the same time as Facebook, so we didn’t really get to play a big role in shaping the development of those platforms”.
As well as the Ray-Ban collaboration, Facebook is also developing ‘Project Aria’, smart glasses which add a 3D layer of useful, contextually-relevant and meaningful information on top of the physical world. Although Aria was set to launch in 2021, the device seems to have been delayed due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.