Although they aren't fully functional AR glasses, Facebook is ready to unveil its first venture into wearables, with the first edition of its smart glasses slated to be released later this week in collaboration with Ray Ban.
This image appeared on the Ray Ban website this week, just as Facebook's head of AR/VR Andrew Bosworth presented some instances of the new smart glasses in operation.
The feature exhibited appears to be quite similar to Snap's Spectacles product, with the glasses being able to capture your real-world view and then sharing it directly to Facebook and Instagram.
It's quite fascinating, and it'll be much more intriguing to see how Ray Ban incorporates the camera components into a slick, contemporary design. However, Snap's Spectacles were introduced five years ago, thus individuals have been able to record video using sunglasses since 2016.
Why would people be interested in a Facebook-only version of the same?
Of course, the long-term goal is for Facebook's smart glasses to be completely AR compatible, with a heads-up display that overlays digital elements on your view of the world.
That's what Facebook hinted to in September last year with its 'Project Aria' tests, which included a video describing the potential of augmented reality glasses in various scenarios.
The announcement appeared to indicate that Facebook was nearing the next level, but in January of this year, Bosworth moved to temper expectations by stating that the initial version of its glasses would not have augmented reality.
According to Bosworth, who spoke to Bloomberg,
“These are certainly connected glasses, they are certainly providing a lot of functionality, [but] we’re being quite coy about which functionality precisely we are providing. We’re excited about it but we don’t want to over-hype it. We’re not even calling it augmented reality, we’re just calling it ‘smart glasses.’”
Which looked like a letdown given the project's original promise, but Facebook will most certainly need to establish product lines and manufacturing, as well as evaluate demand for its smart device, as part of its development. Preferably, this would still have AR capabilities or support it in the future - but it's possible that this is the project's only way ahead, and the only means to iterate into the next phase.
But, as previously stated, why should users be concerned when they can already buy Snap's Spectacles, which provide the same functionality?
In this way, Facebook will be trying to leverage its strength to increase adoption of its smart glasses, with the direct connection to Facebook and Instagram - in contrast to Snapchat - providing the appeal that will attract consumers to purchase the new product.
Simultaneously, you can expect a privacy backlash, with a fresh rumor on the way about how Facebook is monitoring what you're looking at via glasses and sending you adverts for what you've seen, or how Facebook is secretly recording footage and storing it for evil purposes.
Neither of these speculations will be correct, but Facebook will undoubtedly need to make preparations for the worst, with the launch likely to raise a new set of concerns for the company's public relations team, as well as a whole new side story about Zuck and Co.'s global takeover plans and how using such gadgets will jeopardize your liberty.
Perhaps this is why Facebook is eager to get the first version out there, so it can begin to change public perception now, therefore when it does have fully working AR glasses ready to ship, it will already have decent procedures in place, and the early fears will have worn down, allowing for optimal take-up.
Whatever the reasoning, it appears like the first edition of Facebook's smart glasses will be released this week, marking the start of the next stage of digital connectivity.
You can sign up to be notified when the Facebook/Ray Ban glasses become available here.