Home Internet Facebook’s next product will be its long-awaited Ray-Ban smart glasses – TechCrunch

Facebook’s next product will be its long-awaited Ray-Ban smart glasses – TechCrunch

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Digital ads dominate Facebook’s booming business, but it also has hardware ambitions beyond VR. During the company’s latest earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said its next product release would be a pair of smart glasses from Ray-Ban.

“The glasses have their iconic form factor, and they let you do some pretty neat things,” the Facebook co-founder said. “So I’m excited to get those into people’s hands and continue to progress on the journey toward full augmented reality glasses in the future.”

Facebook’s sunglasses have been the subject of rumors since 2019. Back then, sources told CNBC that Facebook was working with Ray-Ban owner EssilorLuxottica on AR eyewear nicknamed “Orion.” The glasses were billed as a full-fledged phone replacement on which you could take calls, see information, and even broadcast live streams.

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Last year, Hugo Barra, then VP of VR at Facebook Reality Labs, confirmed that the glasses would land in 2021. That inevitably drew comparisons to Google Glass (another Luxottica collab) instead of the phone-tethered Spectacles from Snap. But we haven’t heard much since.

For Facebook, the glasses hold the key to its future. Alongside virtual reality, augmented reality (AR) is integral to building the “metaverse,” Zuckerberg said. In the end, Facebook will morph into a shared, liveable platform that lets you “teleport” between different social experiences using VR and AR, Zuckerberg explained.

The term metaverse is the latest buzzword seized upon by Silicon Valley and futurists. While the concept has been around for over a decade, it gained traction after the breakout success of multiplayer game creation platforms like Fortnite and Roblox. Earlier this week, Microsoft chief Satya Nadella mentioned an “enterprise metaverse” on his company’s earnings call.

For Facebook, the metaverse is more than just a fad. According to Zuckerberg, the company is spending billions to build its shared universe, which will be populated with Facebook users and digital ads. For it to become a reality, the company needs more people to buy its computing hardware. Therefore, the plan is to make those devices more affordable.

“Our business model isn’t going to primarily be around trying to sell devices at a large premium or anything like that because our mission is around serving as many people as possible,” Zuckerberg noted. “So we want to make everything we do as affordable as possible, so as many people as possible can get into it and then compounds the size of the digital economy inside it. So that’s how I’m thinking about this at a high level.”

Sunglasses aren’t the only hardware Facebook is reportedly working on. Multiple reports have claimed Facebook is developing a smartwatch with a built-in cellular connection and a detachable display. Initially, the watch was believed to be first out the gate, but it seems Zuckerberg had other plans.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.

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