Facebook has been working in the augmented reality (AR) space for several years now, that’s no secret, but it hasn’t revealed any actual hardware at the moment. However, if recent reports are anything to go by a new partnership with Ray-Ban’s parent company Luxottica may help in that process.
First reported by CNBC, the news organisation states that Facebook has sought outside help with the design because the company: “has struggled to reduce the size of the device into a form factor that consumers will find appealing.” Even though Facebook ‘has hundreds of employees’ working on its AR glasses project.
The aim is to create a pair of smart glasses which can eventually replace smartphones, with the glasses able to make calls, show useful information in a heads-up-display (HUD) and with a built-in camera live-stream to social media. CNBC reports the project is codenamed ‘Orion’, with an estimated launch taking place sometime between 2023 and 2025.
In another report published by The Information, the partnered project is reportedly codenamed ‘Stella’. This is supposedly a far more basic version offering features more akin to Snapchat’s Spectacles, where users can still record their surroundings. The ‘Orion’ project still exists but is a far more advanced AR device along the lines of Magic Leap One or HoloLens 2.
In both reports, Facebook’s AI voice assistant which is being developed to rival Apple’s Siri or Amazon Alexa will be used as the input mechanism for users. Additionally, a device codenamed Agios which allows for inputting information via a motion sensor is being worked on.
VRFocus expects that one of the main reasons Facebook has teamed up with Ray-Ban is purely due to branding. While the tech has to be on point, style is always going to be an important factor (remember Google Glass?) which is a forte of Ray-Ban. Plus what would you rather have on your face, Facebook smartglasses or Ray-Ban smartglasses? That little red and white logo can make all the difference.
Neither company has commented yet on the reports and the likelihood of anything being announced at Oculus Connect 6 (OC6) are slim. If and when further details are released VRFocus will let you know.