Facebook Confirms it is Working on Augmented Reality Glasses

Facebook is building AR glasses

Augmented reality (AR) isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, it’s poised to become a dominant area of focus for a lot of companies out there that are looking to expand their efforts.

Facebook is one such company. There have been rumors for quite some time that the social network is working on its own pair of AR glasses, and today, during a dedicated event for AR and virtual reality (VR) technology, TechCrunch got confirmation that the company is indeed working on it. Fircus Kirkpatrick, head of Facebook’s AR efforts, said as much during the event.

Kirkpatrick said that Facebook is building “hardware products”, and that the company wants to see “those glasses come into reality”. This appears to be the company saying it wants to get out from under the wings of other companies. Facebook relies on smartphones out there, like the iPhone or Android handsets, to handle AR features the company builds into its apps. But building its own pair of hardware glasses could help limit its reliance on other companies in the future.

The competition is picking up, though, as noted in the original report. Facebook is aware of that, though, and as a result has seen fit to go full steam ahead with its efforts. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, said back in 2017 that AR glasses were still “five years, or seven years” away because the technology the company needed to build the glasses they want wasn’t available just yet.

Granted, while Facebook has confirmed that it is working on its own pair of AR glasses, Kirkpatrick wasn’t willing to say when the device would actually launch. So it may still be possible that Facebook’s first pair of AR glasses don’t launch for several years yet.

Facebook doesn’t want to build a headset that pulls people completely out of their lives, though, and doesn’t see the AR glasses of the future resulting in a “Ready Player One” scenario where everyone is “just hanging out in VR all the time”.

“I don’t think we converge to one single device . . . I don’t think we’re going to end up in a Ready Player One future where everyone is just hanging out in VR all the time” he tells me. “I think we’re still going to have the lives that we have today where you stay at home and you have maybe an escapist, immersive experience or you use VR to transport yourself somewhere else. But I think those things like the people you connect with, the things you’re doing, the state of your apps and everything needs to be carried and portable on-the-go with you as well, and I think that’s going to look more like how we think about AR.”

As far as Facebook itself is concerned, it will more than likely have to clean up a lot of its image before the general populace is ready and willing to stick a Facebook camera on their head. The company recently launched the Portal and Portal+ smart displays, which serves as a way to connect with people via video and voice communication. However, it was quickly revealed that the device is yet another means for Facebook to supply targeted advertisements — even if the Portal team hasn’t turned it on just yet.

And then there is Apple, which may have an easier time launching AR glasses of any kind considering its focus on data privacy. The rumor mill has been speculating for quite some time that the company is working on its own pair of AR glasses, going so far as to meet with AR device manufacturers back at the Consumer Electronics Show in January of this year. The upcoming AR glasses would reportedly feature two 8K displays, and at least one analyst believes they will launch by 2020.

How do you feel about AR glasses? Is this one piece of technology you are looking forward to adopting?

[via TechCrunch]