Facebook said it is planning to make a new line of Ray-Ban branded smart glasses that will connect with phones. This is part of its multi-year partnership with Franco-Italian eyewear titan EssilorLuxottica which owns brands like Ray-Ban, Oakley, Armani, Versace and more.
The announcement came during the company’s annual Facebook Connect conference in California. The partnership between the two companies will see Facebook blend its apps and technical know-how with Luxottica’s brands and Essilor’s lens technology. Facebook said the smart glasses would be able to connect to the internet to help people stay connected with family and friends.
During a streamed presentation, Facebook’s chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg said, “They are going to be the next step on the road to augmented reality glasses, and they look pretty good too.”
However, the two companies did not disclose the product name, specs or software capabilities of the smart glasses though they did say more details will be shared closer to the launch in 2021. Zuckerberg cautioned that there is still much work to be done to perfect the stylish glasses that would be infused with sophisticated augmented reality capabilities.
Among the challenges, they will face include developing sensors, camera capabilities and software for “mapping” what wearers see around them in real-time so scenes can be augmented with virtual imagery.
In a post, Facebook explained that the smart glasses would add a 3D layer of contextually relevant information on top of the physical world. The tech giant claims such devices would help users perform everyday tasks better by enabling them to navigate a new city or find their lost keys.
Though such advanced devices hold many benefits, Facebook stressed it would prioritise privacy and data protection, particularly when it comes to the built-in cameras on the smart glasses. It is clear that Facebook is conscious of the kind of backlash that plagued the Google Glass project after it launched seven years ago.
The cameras built into Google Glass sparked enough outrage that they were banned in some businesses. The Mountain View-based company then backed off plans for a consumer version of Glass and focused instead on business uses.
Zuckerberg described virtual reality as the next major computing platform, and it has the potential to reduce the sense of separation common when working, learning, or socializing remotely due to the pandemic.
During the virtual conference, Facebook also announced its second-generation Oculus Quest. The headgear is now said to be lighter and more powerful than its predecessor. On top of that, the Oculus Quest, which will begin shipping on 13 October, is said to be priced at USD299 (~RM1,230), which is also cheaper compared to the previous version.