Facebook has a huge investment in virtual reality, most prominently in its ownership of Oculus, but the social media giant has confirmed that it’s working on augmented reality glasses, too, according to TechCrunch.
“Yeah! Well of course we’re working on it,” commented Facebook’s head of augmented reality Ficus Kirkpatrick to TechCrunch. “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.”
It’s an interesting vision for the company, which has come under fire for a series of security breaches that have comprised personal information for millions of its users. Facebook Portal, the company’s first in-house hardware device being sold under the Facebook name, has seen a rather chilly reception in the tech world as a result. Given the company’s shoddy track record, it’s hard to imagine people lining up to add a Facebook camera to their home that advertises its ability to track you anywhere in a room.
Augmented reality glasses would be asking for an even more personal lens into your life, and Facebook will have to work hard to earn the sort of trust required to do so (assuming the technology gets to the point where a consumer product becomes viable).
That said, making true augmented reality glasses has been a goal at Facebook for some time. At its F8 conference in 2016, CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke about AR as the ultimate endpoint for the company’s current efforts in VR:
Over the next 10 years, the form factor’s just going to keep on getting smaller and smaller, and eventually we’re going to have what looks like normal-looking glasses that can do both virtual and augmented reality. And augmented reality gives you the ability to see the world but also to be able to overlay digital objects on top of that.
So that means that today, if I want to show my friends a photo, I pull out my phone and I have a small version of the photo. In the future, you’ll be able to snap your fingers and pull out a photo and make it as big as you want, and with your AR glasses you’ll be able to show it to people and they’ll be able to see it.
As a matter of act, when we get to this world, a lot of things that we think about as physical objects today, like a TV for displaying an image, will actually just be $1 apps in an AR app store. So it’s going to take a long time to make this work. But this is the vision, and this is what we’re trying to get to over the next 10 years.
It’s doubtful that whatever Facebook is currently developing is the seamless AR glasses that Zuckerberg is describing here. It’s just too early for that. But by his own timetable, Facebook still has eight more years to get there.