Facebook Announces New Advances in VR and AR, Including AR Glasses Coming Next Year

Facebook is today holding its Facebook Connect[1] AR/VR showcase event, where it’s providing an overview of the latest advances in its next level virtual and augmented reality tools.

And there are some major updates of note – here’s an overview of some of the key announcements.

Project Aria

The major announcement of the event is Facebook’s new Project Aria smart glasses[2], which Facebook staff are now experimenting with in the real world, and is expected to be released to the public next year.

As explained by Facebook[3]:

Imagine a pair of glasses that add a 3D layer of useful, contextually-relevant and meaningful information on top of the physical world. Such a device could help us perform everyday tasks better — like finding your keys, navigating a new city, or capturing a moment; but it could also open up an entirely new way of moving through the world.

Project Aria is the first step in this process. The initial Aria prototypes will not provide AR overlays within the lenses, but will essentially be research devices, helping Facebook gather data to support the development of things like head-tracking, eye-tracking, and audio algorithms. These insights will eventually inform the development of fully functional AR overlaid vision.

The next step, then, will be consumer AR glasses – for which, Facebook is partnering with EssilorLuxottica, the makers of Ray-Ban, to build fashionable, Ray-Ban branded smart glasses, which will are set for release in 2021[4].

“They’ll combine innovative technology with fashion-forward style and help people better connect with friends and family.” 

This is a major step for Facebook. The company has been exploring the possibilities of AR glasses for years[5], with CEO Mark Zuckerberg noting back in 2017[6] that they were still “five to seven years away” from reaching the next stage with such a device. 

It seems that his prediction wasn’t too far off, and over the last few months, Facebook has been ramping up its acquisitions[7] and development processes in order to make fully functional AR glasses a reality. 

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