Here's what Facebook's new future-facing AR glasses look like
On Wednesday, Facebook revealed a prototype of the glasses, which were developed as part of a research program Project Aria, and will use its Silicon Valley staff to test the specs. Facebook is designing a consumer version in partnership with EssilorLuxottica, the maker of Ray-Ban sunglasses, that it hopes to release next year.
“By wearing these devices as they go about their day, at home, on Facebook campuses (once they reopen) and in public,” Facebook said in its announcement, “the data they gather will support the development of head-tracking, eye-tracking, and audio algorithms that will one day make the dream of AR glasses real.”
The tech community has been trying to crack the glasses form-factor for years. Google was a pioneer with Google Glass in 2013. Google Glass were internet-connected specs that could record videos and photos and run apps like maps to give directions. The world was not ready for them though, and there were serious privacy concerns raised by the prospect of people walking around with surreptitious recording devices.
In 2016, Snapchat tried to make video glasses cool with the introduction of Spectacles.
Facebook has also seen the potential, and gave examples of how the glasses could be useful. “If you’re at a grocery store, the front-facing cameras might scan the room and identify the store’s contents, while the eye-tracking cameras recognize your gaze has fallen on a fruit, and the display function pops up with an identification, its price, its nutritional value, potential recipes, and so on,” Facebook said.
In another futuristic scenario, Facebook envisions the ability to put on the glasses and “conjure” a TV that projects on to a nearby wall.
In a promotional video, Facebook researchers said they experimented with a few different concepts, including a hat that looked like a construction worker’s helmet and a bracelet.
Facebook tried to get ahead of any privacy concerns by promising that the first batch of users will adhere to strict guidelines. Facebook says recording is not allowed in “sensitive areas,” and that the glasses will cast a prominent white light when taking video. Facebook also said the devices don’t use facial recognition technology, and none of the data being collected would be used to “inform the ads people see across Facebook products.”
Project Aria was announced during Facebook Connect, the virtual and augmented reality event. Facebook launched the next-generation Oculus Quest 2 gaming headset, and showed off augmented reality projects.
Facebook announced a new partnership with The New York Times, which promises to develop AR effects that bolster journalism.