On Monday, Patent released a report entitled “Facebook wins a patent for their future Smartglasses in hopes of beating Apple to Market and Challenging the iPhone.” Who knew that two days later, Facebook would share more about their future smart glasses that they claim will hit the market in 2021.
The announcement was made by Mark Zuckerberg during Facebook Connect, an annual conference held virtually from California, earlier today. To be clear, it seems that Facebook trusts its new partner EssilorLuxottica for the actual hardware – although Facebook also offers “technologies” regarding the glasses.
In their joint press release, it noted that “The Partnership will combine Facebook apps and technologies, Luxottica̵
The first product will be branded Ray-Ban, the world’s most popular eyewear brand, and is scheduled to start in 2021. It will combine the best of both worlds – innovative technology and fashion-forward style – to create smart glasses that consumers really want to wear.
Andrew Bosworth, Vice President of Facebook Reality Labs: “We are passionate about exploring devices that can give people better ways to connect with their loved ones. Wearables have the potential to do so. With EssilorLuxottica, we have an equally ambitious partner who lends his world-class expertise and brand catalog to the first truly fashionable smart glasses, ”said Andrew Bosworth, Vice President of Facebook Reality Labs.
Rocco Basilico, Chief Wearables Officer at Luxottica: “We are especially proud of our partnership with Facebook, which projects an iconic brand like Ray-Ban into an increasingly digital and social future. Combining a brand that is loved and worn by millions of consumers around the world with technology that has led the world “Closer together, we can reset expectations around wearables. We are paving the way for a new generation of products that will change the way we look at the world.”
Project Aria: High End AR glasses
Maybe it’s just me, but how Facebook presented their vision today is a bit confusing with two or more press releases that seemingly contradict each other, on purpose. Yes, Facebook and Luxotica will release a pair of smart glasses under the Ray Ban brand in 2021.
No, Facebook’s advanced Project Aria device, the really advanced AR glasses we really want, is nothing more than a project device that will not hit the market next year.
In another document released today, Facebook notes that “At Facebook Reality Labs, we build Augmented Reality (AR) glasses that will enhance your surroundings with a 3D layer of useful, meaningful and context-relevant information.
And unlike today’s devices that force you to choose between the screen and the world around you, these glasses will blend into the flow of everyday life. imagine a pair of glasses that allow you to see better in low light or hear better in a noisy room. If you are going to a new city, you can get directions; if you do not understand a local language, the glasses can translate the world around you.
We believe this is the next step in the development of computing, but to build this unit, we must do our homework first. “
Elsewhere, Facebook described its Project Aria unit as “a visionary research tool. “They built this research unit that will help them understand how to build the software and hardware needed for AR glasses.
The Project Aria glasses are not a consumer product, nor are they a prototype. They will not display any information inside the lens, and research participants will not be able to see or listen to the raw data captured by the device.
As a research unit, the glasses will use sensors to capture video and audio from the user’s point of view, as well as data on eye movement and location to help engineers and programmers find out how AR can work in practice.
The glasses encrypt, compress and store data until they are uploaded to our separate, designated back-end storage systems.
Facebook further states that “From its inception to implementation, Project Aria was designed as a way to help us innovate safely and responsibly. To help us develop safeguards, policies and even social norms necessary to govern the use of AR glasses and future portable devices, we collect feedback both from people who use the device and from people who meet other people who wear the device in public.
And to better understand how this technology can benefit people with varying physical abilities, we are launching a pilot program with Carnegie Mellon University’s Cognitive Assistance Laboratory to create 3D maps of museums and airports that will have more applications, including helping people with visual impairment better navigate the surroundings. The data collected as part of this research will be stored by CMU.
Again, we will not release this device to the general public, and it will not be for sale. Starting in September, it will be made available to a limited group of Facebook employees and contractors in the United States, trained in both where and when to use the device, and where and when not. “
Facebook also noted that “Of course, much of this is still the domain of science fiction. To actually build glasses that are flexible enough to work for most face shapes and sizes, and create the software to support them, we still need several generations of breakthroughs, such as systems to enhance sound and visual input, contextualized AI and a lightweight framework to house it all. This type of AR requires a fundamental shift in computer technology that mirrors the leap from libraries and landlines to personal computers and smartphones. “
While I hate being overly critical here, I must be. This is pure Facebook Hyperbole. It is Vaporware that hopes to “one day” become AR glasses. Once you are aware that they are not going to release a high-end pair of AR glasses next year, you realize that Facebook does not create anything more than feel good dreams for the developers to keep the interest.
Apple does not hold vaporware concept events to gain customer or developer interest as they deliver products and developer tools ready for use that day. Facebook has little to excite its base with, and so their dream factory went into hyper mode with smoke and mirrors.
I know they’ll be in a race with Apple over AR Glasses, as their patents show. However, apart from dreams on paper, and videos of scientists looking busy, there is nothing for Facebook fans to really sink their teeth into as far as AR Glasses is concerned.
That several generations of breakthroughs are needed to actually deliver high-end AR Glasses is their Aria project to LaLa-Land territory with rainbow dust and dancing acorns. One of their engineers was talking about a 5 to 10 year old window. What did you say?
Note to Zuckerberg: Vaporware went out in the 80’s. Talk about selling “Fake News”. For that, Facebook is definitely one of the hypocritical leaders of our time.
Finally, as a consumer, I have to wonder what exactly they are going to launch in 2021. Will they introduce a mere glasses smartglasses device aimed at Facebook addicts alone? Only time will tell. Although one thing is for sure: Facebook does not deliver an iPhone killer at any time, the end of the story.