Augmented Reality glasses and watches are still on the horizon
posted Sunday Oct 31, 2021 by Scott Ertz
With Virtual Reality becoming the primary focus of Meta, the future of other hardware could have been placed in jeopardy. The Facebook Portal devices, for example, have seen no real market adoption. But, the company appears to have committed itself to various types of hardware outside of the former Oculus brand of VR headsets.
Project Nazare AR Glasses
While Facebook (now Meta) did announce some big changes for Virtual Reality and the former Oculus brand, augmented reality also had a decent showing. The release of the Ray-Ban partnership glasses (the Ray-Ban Stories) was underwhelming, with people simply not caring about the glorified spy camera. What has been proven time and again is that people want proper AR glasses (and not the Google Glass). Instead, they want something closer to HoloLens without the size and weight.
This is the gap which Meta is hoping to fill with its Project Nazare AR glasses. The glasses, which were officially spoken of by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, will feature "hologram displays, projectors, batteries, radios, custom silicon chips, cameras, speakers, sensors to map the world around you, and more." They aim at getting the infrastructure to about 5mm thick, an experience very different from Microsoft's headset.
While not exactly an announcement, it does finally confirm rumors that have existed for years that the company has been working on real AR glasses. But, while they have been working on them for years, it is expected that it will still be several years before this product sees the light of day. They are working against a clock, because we also know that Apple is working on something very similar.
Another Facebook rumor that just won't die is a Facebook smartwatch. We've been hearing about this Apple Watch competitor for years, but have had little to no hard evidence - until now. While Zuckerburg did not mention a watch during Connect 2021, an image might have been leaked by Facebook itself.
Discovered by app developer Steve Moser and reported by Bloomberg, a watch was mentioned by the company in its Facebook View app. This app is designed to be a companion for the Ray-Ban Stories glasses, which allows you to control it. The watch features a more rounded design than the Apple Watch, but not properly round like the Samsung Gear line. It features a button on the side, versus the digital crown that Apple has implemented.
More interestingly, the watch appears to feature a camera. While this is not terribly unusual for watches in general, it has become less common as of late. While the original Gear watch had a camera facing outward, lately we have seen most watches without a camera. However, if the connected glasses are really nothing more than a spy camera, it serves that the watch would be too.
While still unannounced, the watch is rumored to release in 2022 or beyond. As mentioned with the recently announced Amazon fitness band, it might simply be too late for Meta to get in on this game. Apple and Samsung own the market today, with some smaller brands holding steady with more focused products. But, if it all ties into the Metaverse, then it might have a place in the future of the company.