Ready to wear a Facebook-designed computer on your face every day?
The social media giant’s next hardware launch will be its long-awaited Ray-Ban ‘smart glasses’, CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed on an earnings call this week.
“Looking ahead here, the next product release will be the launch of our first smart glasses from Ray-Ban in partnership with EssilorLuxottica,” said the Facebook CEO. “The glasses have their [Ray-Ban’s] iconic form factor, and they let you do some pretty neat things.”
Zuckerberg did not say what those “neat things” are but they will definitely involve yet more ads. “Ads are going to continue being an important part of the strategy across the social media parts of what we do and it will probably be a meaningful part of the metaverse too,” he said, “metaverse” being tech-speak for a multi-modal technology platform that is supposed to blend virtual and physical spaces, and be used for shopping, work, and socialising.
“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,” he said.
Zuckerberg did not clarify a timeline for when these smart glasses will be released. Facebook’s sunglasses have been the subject of rumours since 2019. Back then, CNBC reported that the company was working with Ray-Ban owner EssilorLuxottica on something called ‘Orion’. That inevitably drew comparisons to Google Glass, another Luxottica collab.
So what can you expect from the smart glasses?
They’ll Be Glasses
The Ray-Ban branding suggests they will have normal lenses, but the glasses won’t have their own displays. Much like Amazon’s Echo Frames and Bose Frames, these will probably focus on audio as the immersive tech of the moment, according to The Verge.
But Not ‘AR’ Glasses
Facebook’s head of AR/VR hardware, Andrew Bosworth, told CNET earlier this year that the company is being careful not to call them augmented reality glasses. “When you’re overlaying digital artefacts on to the world, that’s really augmented reality. These aren’t augmented reality glasses. However, they do a lot of the concepts we think will eventually be critical for augmented reality glasses,” Bosworth said.
They Will Work with Smartphones
The smart glasses won’t act as a standalone device, Facebook told Mashable in a statement. Instead, they’ll work in conjunction with a smartphone or another external display.
As with the Spectacles and Echo Frames, Facebook’s Ray-Ban smart glasses will allow users to stay connected to a device without distracting them from their current environment.