Facebook & Ray-Ban Team Up To Develop Voice-Powered AR Glasses

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Facebook has been working to build its own augmented reality (AR) glasses for the past couple of years, CNBC reports. Codenamed Orion, these glasses are designed to replace smartphones.

The glasses will be able to take calls without being connected to a smartphone. There will also be a small display to show the necessary information, much like Google Glass. The built-in camera will let users live stream their point of view to their social media friends and followers.

According to CNBC, Facebook has teamed up with Luxottica, makers of Ray-Ban glasses, to help develop the "Orion" augmented reality glasses. The social media giant hopes to bring the glasses to market in the next few years, possibly by 2023, or as late as 2025.

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A separate report from The Information, meanwhile, claims that Facebook and Ray-Ban are also working on a completely different set of smart glasses, codenamed "Stella." These glasses also feature a camera allowing users to record their surroundings and share them. Facebook hopes to ship the Stella glasses within the next couple of years, likely before "Orion", The Information reports.

More to come from Facebook

Smart glasses aren't the only things of interest for Facebook. The California based company is already known to be building its own voice assistant. The voice assistant would serve as a user input for the glasses.

Facebook is also experimenting with a motion-sensing ring, codenamed Agios, to use as an input device.

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Facebook has hundreds of employees at its Facebook Reality Labs in Redmond, Washington working on these next-gen technologies. The company, however, is struggling with the development of the project "Orion".

Apparently, Facebook couldn't reduce the size of the glasses into a form factor that consumers will find appealing. It hopes that Luxottica will help get them completed on time. Luxottica has previously worked on this technology, partnering with Google back in 2014 for the Google Glass.

Smart glasses aren't a completely new concept. Several companies, including Microsoft, Google, and Snap (Snapchat parent company), have already tried their hands and failed. However, the development of technology continues and more and more companies are venturing into it. Apple is the latest big name known to be working on a similar product. Apple smart glasses are expected to hit the market next year.

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Facebook sees the technology as an eventual replacement to mobile phones. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a strong interest in the AR glasses. He has reportedly asked hardware chief Andrew Bosworth to prioritize them.

Whether Facebook and Luxottica manage to complete the project and ship out the "Orion" or "Stella" glasses on time remains to be seen. And if they do, hopefully, the glasses will look better than just spectacles. Plenty of time ahead to that, though.