AR glasses may not fully function as such, but Facebook is preparing to launch its first foray into wearable things, with an initial iteration of its smart glasses to be released in partnership with Ray Ban later this week.
This image was posted on Ray Ban’s website this week, coinciding with some examples of new smart glasses in action, shared by Facebook’s AR / VR boss Andrew Bosworth.
The functionality shown is very similar to Snap’s Spectacles product, with glasses that can capture your view of the real world, which you can then share, probably on Facebook and Instagram.
Which is interesting, and it will be especially interesting to see how Ray Ban accurately integrates camera elements into a cool, modern design. But then again, Snap’s glasses were released five years ago, so since 2016, people have had the opportunity to take shots through sunglasses.
Why would people care about the same version for Facebook?
The long-term plan is, of course, to make Facebook’s smart glasses fully compatible with AR, with a head-up display that will cover the digital elements in your worldview.
That’s what Facebook predicted with its ‘Project Aria’ experiments last September, with this video describing the potential of AR glasses in different contexts.
The announcement seems to have suggested that Facebook is close to that next stage – but then in January this year, Bosworth tried to lower expectations by noting that the initial version of his glasses would not be equipped with AR.
As Bosworth told Bloomberg:
“These are definitely connected glasses, which certainly provide a lot of functionality, [but] we’re pretty shy about what functionality we’re just providing. We’re excited about it, but we don’t want to over-amplify it. We don’t even call it augmented reality, just smart glasses. ”
Which, given the project’s initial promise, seemed disappointing, but really, Facebook will likely have to set up production lines and production, and measure demand for its smart device as part of its development. Ideally, this would still include AR functionality or support in the future – but perhaps this is the only way forward for the project and the only way to move on to the next phase.
But as stated, why would consumers care, as if they can already buy Snap glasses that provide exactly the same capacity?
In that sense, Facebook will hopefully use its scale to increase downloads of its smart glasses, with a direct link to Facebook and IG – unlike Snapchat – providing a lure that will get people to buy a new device.
At the same time, you can already anticipate an upcoming privacy response, with a new conspiracy on the horizon about how Facebook tracks what you see through glasses, shows you ads for things you’ve seen, or how Facebook records videos without people’s knowledge and then stores for evil purposes.
None of these theories will be correct, but no doubt Facebook will have to prepare for the worst, with a launch that will open up a new set of concerns for Facebook’s PR team, prompting a whole new story about Zuck and Co. global download plans and how using such devices will deprive you of your freedom.
Maybe that’s why Facebook wants to get the first iteration out there, so now it can start to defy public perception, so by the time it has fully functional AR glasses ready for delivery, it will already have solid processes in place, and initial worries about such turn off, paving the way for optimal retrieval.
Regardless of the logic, we seem ready to see the first iteration of Facebook’s smart glasses this week, which will likely mark the first step in the next phase of digital connectivity.
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