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On a recent earnings conference, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the company’s next hardware launch will be its long-awaited Ray-Ban “smart spectacles.” It’s unknown when the glasses will arrive. We last heard they were planning to debut in 2021, but the pandemic has disrupted several firms’ plans, and Zuckerberg declined to comment on a timeline.
“Looking ahead here, our next product launch will be the introduction of our first smart glasses from Ray-Ban in collaboration with EssilorLuxottica,” added Zuckerberg. “The glasses have a distinctive shape and allow you to perform some really cool things.”
We have no idea what those “neat things” are, however Facebook has previously stated that the glasses would not have an integrated display and will not be considered an augmented reality gadget. Will they be able to make voice calls? Will they be able to use a virtual assistant? It’s unclear. They will probably rely on a linked smartphone app for controls, akin to Snap Spectacles or Amazon’s Echo Frames, despite the lack of an inbuilt display.
The Ray-Ban glasses are part of Facebook’s “journey towards full augmented reality glasses in the future,” according to Zuckerberg. For a long time, the business has been developing such a gadget, channelizing efforts through its Project Aria research team and even manufacturing prototype AR spectacles, as seen above.
Facebook’s latest ambitions to develop the “metaverse” — a multi-modal technological platform that would combine virtual and actual environments and be used for commerce, work, and socializing — include augmented reality glasses. Of course, Facebook will exploit it to sell additional advertising space. “[A]ds are going to continue to be an important element of the strategy across the social media portions of what we do, and it will probably be a major part of the metaverse too,” Zuckerberg said at the same earnings conference this week.