While Facebook started out as an online social media platform, the company is no stranger to other technologies. It dabbles in Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and lest we forget, it owns WhatsApp and Instagram, along with many other products and technologies. However, the company is working on AR glasses from some time now but it seems like the project’s development was struggling. As per CNBC, Facebook has now partnered with the Ray-Ban parent company Luxottica to develop the device.
Orion smart glasses in the making
Facebook is a well-known player in the VR space with its range of Oculus devices back in October 2018, it confirmed to be working on some sort of AR-enabled smart glasses. While the company didn’t delve into the details, it has apparently sights set on developing smart glasses that don’t supplement our phones or gadgets, but might replace them entirely someday. Internally codenamed Orion, the smart glass is said to help users place and receive calls. It is also said to feature a digital voice assistant, similar to Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, which would be used to input commands.
Additionally, the AR smart glasses might show information on “a small display” and come equipped with a camera to directly live stream the surrounding from the user’s point of view. Most of the features mentioned here are similar to Google Glass, which was Google’s attempt at making AR glasses mainstream. CNBC states that Facebook’s partnership with Luxottica is to develop the device for consumers and get it introduced to the market in the next few years, possibly between 2023 and 2025.
As per the report, Facebook has hundreds of people developing the technology for AR-enabled smart glasses. Still, the company has been struggling with reducing the size of the device and developing it in a form factor that is appealing to the consumers. Given that Luxottica has previously partnered with Google to develop Google Glass, which is somewhat better designed than most smart glasses, Facebook teaming up with the Ray-Ban parent company makes sense.
However, there’s no certainty that Facebook’s plans of developing AR glasses will come to fruition, given the long lead time. Citing a person familiar with the developments, CNBC says that the Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself is pushing the project and has asked the company’s hardware chief Andrew Bosworth to prioritize them.
Stella or Orion?
The Information reports that Facebook is developing another smart glass that is internally referred to as Stella, in partnership with Ray-Ban. Stella is said to offer functionalities that are similar to Snapchat’s Spectacles glasses and enable video recording via a camera embedded in the device’s frame. It is also said to feature the digital voice assistant we previously mentioned the company is developing. Facebook is aiming to release Stella in a couple of years, which means that it can be announced ahead of Orion, if the reports are to be believed.
There’s always been a push to develop smart AR and VR enabled solutions for the masses. Facebook has its Oculus devices, while HTC developed Vive VR and Microsoft offers the HoloLens headsets. While most of these devices are meant for being used at home, companies are now trying to develop solutions that ultimately replace our phones. Google tried it with Google Glass but it wasn’t a big hit. Apple is also rumoured to be working on its own smart glasses but it remains to be seen who will ultimately win the spotlight.
Image credits: Facebook
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