Smart glasses: Facebook x Ray-Ban
If you’re hooked on Ray-Ban style and Facebook functionality, 2021 might be looking better already.
The famous glasses manufacturer has teamed up with the social networking giant to develop Facebook’s first-ever publicly available set of smart glasses. The product is scheduled for release sometime next year.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement during Facebook Connect, the company’s annual conference for augmented reality and virtual reality developments, by way of their Oculus division.
The conference can be seen in its entirety here.
The glasses are still in development, so specific details are sparse. One thing we do know is that the Facebook–Ray Ban glasses will not utilize augmented reality technology, but they’re “on the road there,” Zuckerberg said during the keynote.
Augmented reality, often abbreviated to “AR,” is the technology that accurately places digital objects or markers into your live view. There’s a good chance you’ve already used AR in apps like Snapchat and Instagram, or games like Pokémon GO and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. More than 600 million people currently utilize Facebook’s Spark AR platform through Facebook and Instagram features alone.
The 2021 glasses will allow Facebook to test and improve upon early features, so they can eventually make the leap to AR functionality.
Since the upcoming model won’t feature AR, your first-person view through these smart glasses probably won’t be much different than it would be in any normal pair of eyeglasses — outside of a potential status light or two hanging out in your peripheral vision.
Unlike everyday glasses, however, the smart glasses will have a lot going on under the hood. Exactly what that is, we don’t know, but it could include things like simple video recording without the use of your phone — or back-and-forth communication with a virtual assistant via built-in microphone and speaker.
But lacking augmented reality doesn’t come without its perks — the AR-less Facebook glasses could be a lot more affordable than the future AR model.
“This is going to be a big milestone in starting to integrate the core technologies into a regular-glasses form factor, and seeing how people are using them,” Zuckerberg noted during the livestream. “They’re going to be the next step on the road to augmented-reality glasses — and they look pretty good, too.”
Ray-Ban’s role in the project
Partnering with EssilorLuxottica, Ray-Ban’s parent company, could add instant credibility to the frame and lens aspects of Facebook’s smart glasses.
“We need to support a lot of different designs and styles, and that’s what Luxottica does,” Zuckerberg said during the keynote.
It’s not yet known how the two brands will further tie into frame designs and lens options, but they’re certain to play a big role. In addition to the Ray-Ban sunglasses and eyeglasses catalog, EssilorLuxottica produces several lens options, including Transitions photochromic lenses, Varilux progressive lenses and Eyezen blue-light lenses.
“Combining a brand that is loved and worn by millions of consumers around the globe with technology that has brought the world closer together, we can reset expectations around wearables,” said Luxottica’s Chief Wearables Officer Rocco Basilico in a press release. “We are paving the way for a new generation of products destined to change the way we look at the world.”
The evolving world of smart glasses
Smart glasses aren’t a mainstream staple yet, but tech companies are certainly working to change that. Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Snap (Snapchat) all have smart glasses in production or development, and Apple seems to be one step away from confirming their own iteration.
We may not know details like technical capabilities, Instagram integration, battery life or even a name, but one thing can be all but guaranteed: Facebook and Ray-Ban’s product will be one more step toward widespread use of smart glasses.
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Page updated September 2020