Facebook and Ray-Ban to work on AR smart glasses together

Ruben Fields
September 18, 2020

Facebook announced on Wednesday (16) that it is working in partnership with Ray-Ban to develop smart glasses.

"We don't have a product yet to share with you today but I am excited to share that we have formed a multi-year partnership starting with building and releasing our first pair of smart glasses next year", Zuckerberg said.

As Facebook Connect (formerly Oculus Connect) kicked off with a keynote presentation from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Project Aria was one of the first new announcements from the event.

Instead, it will capture audio and video from a first-person perspective, as well as eye movement and location data, to help Facebook determine how augmented reality should work.

Facebook has announced Project Aria, a research project to build AR (augmented reality) glasses. Along with Ray-Ban, Luxottica owns brands such as Oakley and Persol, and makes eyewear for brands ranging from Versace to Brooks Brothers.

Although not a consumer-facing product, Facebook has outlined some of the steps it's taking to ensure Project Aria and subsequent AR devices are privacy-respecting. "The glasses do not include a display and research participants can not view video or listen to audio from the device", the company added. They won't display any information on the inside of the lens, and research participants can not view or listen to the raw data captured by the device. These smart glasses are part of the company's AR space.

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This includes the devices displaying "a prominent white light" when data is being recorded, a physical mute button, and will only collect data in "Facebook offices, wearers' private homes, and public spaces" unless they have permission from stores and venues to record inside them.

As Facebook points out, "Project Aria was designed as a way to help us innovate safely and responsibly".

With Project Aria, Facebook is also hoping to explore concepts such as client-based mapping: a system that will allow users to map environments in real-time with better accuracy and scope than previously available data collection options.

Additionally, the smart Ray-Ban glasses will not come with an integrated display.

Andrew Bosworth, head of Facebook Reality Labs, was quick to emphasize that Facebook will undergo extensive testing well before any consumer AR device would go on sale. The company, however, will test the product with select Facebook employees and contractors in the United States in September.

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