• Jonathan Lee

Facebook to build AR glasses

Some pretty big updates from Facebook at the sixth annual Oculus Connect, developer conference last week.

One interesting announcement is that Facebook confirmed it is building AR glasses. It also announced a project called “Live Maps” that will create 3D maps of the world.

Facebook said "We’re exploring a new kind of map that would give you a virtual map of the world, supercharging AR glasses and other smart devices with contextualized information and the ability to anchor virtual content in the real world. LiveMaps will create a shared virtual map of the world. With these 3D spaces, your avatar could teleport anywhere in the world, giving you the ability to stay connected to the people in your life while you’re on the go".

According to Facebook, Live Maps will produce “multi-layer representations of the world” using crowdsourced data, traditional maps, and footage captured through phones and augmented reality glasses.

Facebook is hoping a partnership with Ray-Ban parent company Luxottica (which was announced last week), will get their AR glasses completed and ready for consumers between 2023 and 2025.

The glasses are internally codenamed Orion, and they are designed to replace smartphones by allowing users to take and make calls, show information to users in a small display and live-stream their vantage point to their social media friends and followers.

It was also announced that Facebook are developing their own AI assistant that would connect users with the wearables,

Many of the big tech companies have identified this as an area of huge opportunity given that Microsoft makes the HoloLens 2 headset, Snapchat sells its Spectacles glasses and Magic Leap sells its Magic Leap One AR glasses. Apple is also believed to be working on a similar product that could hit the market as early as 2020.

A 2023-25 launch for Facebook's AR glasses seems like it will put them behind the competition at this stage. That said, it will be exciting to see new AR hardware come onto the market and whether these devices can quickly replace the smartphone for the broader population.

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