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Facebook taps Ray-Ban makers to help develop AR glasses for replacing your smartphone, report says

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Facebook taps Ray-Ban makers to help it develop augmented reality glasses that can make calls, surf social media and more, claims report

  • Facebook has tapped Luxottica to help it design AR glasses says CNBC 
  • The product is reportedly code-named Orion and has myriad capabilities 
  • Sources tell CNBC it will be able to make calls and live-stream on social media 
  • Orion isn’t expected to be available until 2023 to 2025 
  • Facebook has long voiced an interest in creating AR glasses, with Mark Zuckerberg teasing these plans at the F8 developer conference in 2017 

Facebook is still firmly in the race to develop augmented reality glasses according to a new report.

CNBC says the company has enlisted the help of Italian eyewear company Luxottica, which owns popular brands like Oakely and Ray-Ban, to help it design the product.

Sources familiar with the project told CNBC that the device is code-named Orion and is not only being designed as an augmented reality headset, but as a replacement for one’s smart phone. 

Pictured is a design Facebook previously patented for a device it describes as being a 'near-eye-display' which is likely the beginning stages of its AR glasses.

Pictured is a design Facebook previously patented for a device it describes as being a ‘near-eye-display’ which is likely the beginning stages of its AR glasses.

The report suggests Facebook wants the device to take calls, stream social media, and show information off the web, similar to Google’s felled Google Glass product. 

Orion may also come with a voice assistant capable of taking audio commands, reports CNBC.  

Earlier this year reports from Business Insider confirmed that the social media giant moved hundreds of employees from its Facebook Reality Labs research division to a totally new unit devoted to augmented reality hardware.  

The team was reportedly being helmed by Michael Abrash, an AR/VR exec, as well as Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth, Facebook’s vice president of augmented reality and virtual reality.  . 

As exemplified by the recent collaboration between Facebook Luxottuca, the glasses are expected to be more minimalist and light than AR headsets like Microsoft’s Hololens or the Magic Leap.   

According to CNBC, the glasses, though currently in-the-works aren’t expected to be available to consumers imminently. Sources  say, if the product is designed successfully, they might go on sale between 2023 and 2025.

Facebook has voiced an interest in AR glasses before. 

At Facebook's 2017 F8 conference, Zuckerberg teased the company's hopes of creating a pair of AR glasses. File photo

At Facebook’s 2017 F8 conference, Zuckerberg teased the company’s hopes of creating a pair of AR glasses. File photo

In an interview last year, Ficus Kirkpatrick, Facebook’s head of augmented reality, confirmed the company’s AR ambitions in an interview with TechCrunch.   

‘Well of course we’re working on it,’ Kirkpatrick said in the interview. 

‘We are building hardware products. We’re going forward on this…We want to see those glasses come into reality, and I think we want to play our part in helping to bring them there.’

At the time, Kirkpatrick provided scant details on how the glasses would look or function, however.   

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Facebook in 2014 paid a whopping $2 billion to acquire virtual reality headset maker Oculus, releasing several iterations of VR goggles since then. 

However, in the ensuing years, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and others in the company have signaled a deeper interest in augmented reality. 

At Facebook’s F8 developer conference in 2017, Zuckerberg teased the company’s hopes to create a pair of AR glasses. 

‘We know where we want this go eventually – glasses or contact lenses that overlay this,’ Zuckerberg said at the time.  

‘This will help us mix the physical and digital in new ways, and make reality better.’    

FACEBOOK’S AR GLASSES PATENT 

Facebook’s VR arm Oculus patented an augmented reality system for glasses that would allow wearers to see virtual objects – and presumably Facebook posts and notifications – in the real world around them. 

The technology will use a waveguide display to project light onto the wearer’s eyes to show images and video.

The approach is similar to the one used by Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset and the mysterious glasses being developed by the Google-backed startup Magic Leap. 

The pictured design is smaller and sleeker than the HoloLens headset.

 Pasi Saarikko, who came to Oculus as lead optical scientists after leading the optical design of the HoloLens at Microsoft, is one of the patent authors.

Last August, Facebook was granted approval for a patent describing a pair of ‘near-eye display’ glasses.  

According to the filing, the display ‘may augment views of a physical, real-world environment with computer-generated elements’ and ‘may be included in an eye-wear comprising a frame and a display assembly that presents media to a user’s eyes.’ 

Using a waveguide display, the technology will project light onto the wearer’s eyes to show images and video.       

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