Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has revealed that the company is planning to bring a pair of smart glasses to the market relatively soon. The headset will be the result of a collaboration with Ray-Ban, which teamed up with Facebook back in 2019.
The news came during a recent earnings call, in which Zuckerberg stated that the glasses would be his company’s next hardware release. However, he declined to share any details about the actual release date, or the features that would be available through the device. However, Gizmodo did parse through some past statements to make a few predictions. Zuckerberg has claimed that Facebook’s first consumer glasses would debut in 2021, while the company has suggested that that first pair would be a slightly less ambitious product without a display.
In plain terms, that means that the smart glasses solution would not be a true Augmented Reality device, as much as it would be a wearable set of spectacles with a few connected capabilities. For example, the glasses might come with a virtual assistant, or be equipped with audio technology that allows the wearer to stream music or take calls.
One feature that would likely not be on the list is facial recognition. Facebook has reportedly explored the possibility of making glasses with facial recognition technology, but there are significant privacy concerns associated with the public use of such a system.
Either way, Zuckerberg indicated that Facebook eventually plans to release a more robust pair of glasses with full AR capabilities. The company is hoping that the glasses will be a gateway into a broader metaverse, which is to say that they would serve as the foundation of a social platform that people could use to interact with others in a virtual or mixed reality space.
The Ray-Ban glasses are being developed in partnership with EssilorLuxottica. Facebook has run afoul of privacy laws with facial recognition in the past, most notably with a tagging feature that resulted in a $650 million settlement in a class action lawsuit in Illinois.