Facebook has grand plans for AR glasses, may unveil hardware this year

Facebook Ar Glasses Sketch
Facebook Ar Glasses Sketch (Image credit: Facebook)

What you need to know

  • Facebook discusses its plans for AR in the next 10 years.
  • Facebook hopes to use wearables like glasses to create seamless interactions with your environment.
  • The company plans to unveil advancements in wearable technology later this year.

Lately, Facebook has been rumored to be developing a couple of wearables, including a pair of smart glasses and a smartwatch. What Facebook wanted to do in the wearable space was anyone's guess, and while some may scoff at the idea of a Facebook smartwatch, it may not be as such a crazy idea, at least if the company actually manages to pull off its grandiose ideas. On Thursday, the company finally outlined its long-term plans for using wearables, and it all has to do with AR.

Facebook explained in a blog post how it plans to utilize wearables to create more natural human-computer interactions. The company envisions interacting wearables like smart AR glasses and smartwatches while remaining present in the environment. Michael Abrash, Chief Scientist at Facebook Reality Labs (FRL), explains that these kinds of tech need to blend seamlessly with whatever the user is doing by drawing context from whatever is happening in the world.

In order for AR to become truly ubiquitous, you need low-friction, always-available technology that's so intuitive to use that it becomes an extension of your body....we need to invent a completely new type of interface — one that places us at the center of the computing experience.

The company laid out a scenario of smart AR glasses and a wristband helping the wearer seamlessly interact with the environment while entering a coffee shop. The glasses would immediately ask if the wearer wants to order their favorite drink, automatically adjusts ambient noise level to help the user focus or converse with a server, and brings up a virtual screen and keyboard to get work done.

To achieve something like this, Facebook Reality Labs focuses on creating comfortable, all-day wearables that enable natural and effortless input while pulling contextual information from the environment. Facebook states that part of this work also includes building a socially-acceptable platform focused on privacy and security. The company plans to unveil more information soon on wrist-based input, but the bigger event may come later this year:

...later in the year, we'll pull back the curtain on some groundbreaking work in soft robotics to build comfortable, all-day wearable devices and share an update on our haptic glove research.

It will be interesting to see how Facebook's first wearables bring the company closer to its vision for an AR-based future. It may not be so farfetched given its ownership of VR tech like the Oculus Quest 2 and could use what it learns to take wearables to the next level. Previous rumors indicated that an upcoming watch would likely run on Wear OS, meaning we might see one of the best Android smartwatches coming from Facebook next year.

Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.