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Thu 17 September 2020:

Facebook on Wednesday announced it would launch its own smart glasses next year which connect to smartphones as part of an alliance with eyewear titan EssilorLuxottica.

“We don’t have a product yet to share with you today but I am excited to share that we have formed a multi-year partnership starting with building and releasing our first pair of smart glasses next year,” Zuckerberg said during the virtual ‘Facebook Connect’ conference on Wednesday.

The Ray-Ban branded smart glasses will combine innovative technology with fashion-forward style and help people better connect with friends and family, he added.

Zuckerberg cautioned that there is still much work to be done to perfect stylish glasses infused with sophisticated augmented reality capabilities.

Challenges include developing sensors, camera capabilities and software for mapping what wearers see around them in real time so scenes can be augmented with virtual imagery.

Imagine a pair of glasses that add a 3D layer of useful, contextually relevant and meaningful information on top of the physical world, Facebook said in a post about the project.

Such a device could help us perform everyday tasks better like finding your keys, navigating a new city, or capturing a moment; but it could also open up an entirely new way of moving through the world.

“We’re passionate about exploring devices that can give people better ways to connect with those closest to them. Wearables have the potential to do that.

“With EssilorLuxottica we have an equally ambitious partner who’ll lend their expertise and world-class brand catalogue to the first truly fashionable smart glasses,” said Andrew Bosworth, Vice President of Facebook Reality Labs.

The technology firm was evidently trying to avoid the kind of backlash that vexed a Google Glass smart eyewear project after it launched seven years ago.

Cameras built into Glass gear sold to developers sparked enough outrage to have them banned in some businesses. Google backed off plans for a consumer version of Glass and focused on business uses.

Only about 100 people will be involved in testing Aria prototypes at the outset, primarily in the San Francisco and Seattle areas, according to Facebook.

Project Aria research participants will record in Facebook offices, their homes and public spaces, but won’t record anything in venues such as stores or restaurants without written consent from the establishments.

The recording will only be allowed in the homes of wearers with consent from all members of the household, the company said.

Separately, Zuckerberg announced that the second-generation Oculus Quest headgear, made lighter and more powerful, will be available to order at $299, a price lower than its predecessor.

Oculus Quest 2 will begin shipping on Oct. 13.

Zuckerberg has described virtual reality as the next major computing platform, and it has the potential to reduce the sense of separation common when working, learning, or socializing remotely due to the pandemic.

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