Facebook's smart glasses to arrive this year sans AR overlay tech

Shawn Knight

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In brief: Facebook’s upcoming smart glasses are set to arrive “sooner than later” this year but they will be missing a key feature often associated with such wearables. Instead, it sounds as if the social networking leader is content to take its time and let AR mature a bit before adopting the tech.

Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s vice president of virtual reality and augmented reality, suggested to Bloomberg that the glasses, which are being built in collaboration with Luxottica Group subsidiary Ray-Ban, won’t overlay digital objects over the real world.

“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,” Bosworth said. The executive noted that they are excited about the product but don’t want to over-hype it.

“We’re not even calling it augmented reality, we’re just calling it ‘smart glasses,’” Bosworth added.

Facebook has long been interested in the field of VR and AR, going so far as to purchase budding VR firm Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion. They’ve continued to develop VR hardware for the gaming space, most recently launching the Oculus Quest 2 late last year.

The social media giant isn’t the only tech titan interested in AR and smart glasses. Google first released its ill-fated Google Glass headset in early 2013 but quickly reconsidered. Microsoft and Snap have since launched their respective efforts but neither has gained substantial marketshare. Apple’s first AR device is expected sometime this year.

Masthead courtesy David Paul Morris, Bloomberg

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I've been wearing glasses since I was 6 months old, not allowed to drive because of my eyesight, and held back in other, more discreet ways - I was so disappointed by the car crash that was Google Glasses, and am really excited for smart glasses tech and what possibilities it could unlock for me!
I share the same privacy concerns, and skepticism as anyone else, but I've got a genuine vested interest and it sucks that product hasn't really hit the market in the last decade for this!