Facebook has enlisted the maker of the iconic Ray-Ban sunglasses brand to help develop a pair of augmented reality specs, according to a CNBC report.
Those familiar with the matter say the social network has struggled with its internal efforts to build an AR viewer so has brought Ray-Ban’s parent company Luxottica on board to provide the assist.
The report says the specs are being developed under the codename Orion and will be unleashed upon consumers at some point between 2023 and 2025.
Today’s report even goes into detail on the specs, claiming Facebook wants them to completely replace a smartphone. The glasses will be capable of taking calls, live-streaming video to social media channels, while displaying information for the user via a heads-up display, the report says. The AI voice assistant Facebook is rumoured to be developing will also be on board according to those familiar with the matter.
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The report does point out that the consumer release isn’t guaranteed, given the problems the company has already experienced in perfecting the form factor. According to the sources, Facebook has especially struggled to keep the size down in order to create a fashionable device.
However, the sources say, Facebook’s chief hardware chief Andrew Bosworth has been told to prioritise the project by overlord Mark Zuckerberg, for what that’s worth.
If Facebook does get in the AR game and expand upon its Oculus virtual reality division, it will go up against an increasingly crowded field, with plenty of big names still preparing to jump in.
The likes of Microsoft, Magic Leap, Snap, North and Vuzix are already pushing the envelope in various ways. However, the real game-changer for the AR sector is likely to be Apple’s rumoured entry, with the company reportedly plotting hardware of its own.
Apple is already enabling AR experiences via the cameras on iPhones and iPads, but the launch of dedicated glasses could cause the seismic shift that could eventually see smartphones rendered superfluous.