#NewsBytesExplainer: Understanding Meta's Augmented Reality aspirations and what lies ahead
When Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook, it changed the equation of social interactions. It was a disrupting force. Zuckerberg aims to create something similar or even bigger with the metaverse. Zuckerberg's grandiose vision of the metaverse includes augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and a lot more. Here, we take a look at Meta's (Facebook's successor)AR aspirations and what lies ahead.
Zuckerberg sees AR glasses as a holy grail
Zuckerberg once called AR glasses a "holy grail" that will redefine our relationship with technology. He expects them to have the same impact as smartphones. Meta already sells VR headsets, but it sees AR glasses as a bigger market because they are lighter and could be worn for a longer time. However, the complexity of AR glasses makes them a tougher peak to conquer.
First AR glasses are expected to come out in 2024
Zuckerberg has lofty ambitions for AR hardware. Despite the difficulty in developing AR glasses, Zuckerberg expects the first generation of high-tech glasses to be delivered by 2024. Teams are already working on a lighter and more advanced version for 2026. It will be followed by the third edition in 2028. Meta would want to adhere to this roadmap to realize its aspirations.
Meta's first AR glasses will be only for developers
Project Nazare was first announced by Zuckerberg during his keynote speech during the Meta Connect 2021. It was made as an almost passing reference, hiding the importance behind it. The Nazare AR glasses are due for release in 2024. However, as we previously expected, it won't be released commercially. Instead, Meta's first-generation AR glasses will be only available to developers.
What is Project Nazare?
Since Nazare was brought out of research in 2018, Zuckerberg has shown special interest. He wants Nazare AR glasses to provide a full AR experience with 3D graphics, a large field of vision, and a socially acceptable form factor. The displays of the glasses are powered by expensive custom waveguides and microprojectors. The first version will also have eye-tracking and a front-facing camera.
Project Artemis will be a consumer-focused product
Meta also plans to release a cheaper version of Nazare, internally codenamed Project Hypernova. Unlike Nazare, which will be independent of smartphones, Hypernova will connect to users' smartphones to put notifications and alerts on a heads-up display. The consumer-focused model is codenamed Project Artemis. It will be released at a higher production volume with a less bulky design and more advanced display.
Meta will ship wrist device that will interact with glasses
Meta will ship wrist wearables with its AR glasses. Hypothetically, users will be able to control their glasses with their minds using the wrist device. Sounds like Meta's next privacy lawsuit, doesn't it? The wrist device will use electromyography or EMG to measure electrical pulses in the arm's neurons to interact with the glasses. With that, someone can just think to type or control.
Half of Reality Labs' expense goes to augmented reality
Meta's CTO and Reality Labs head Andrew Bosworth recently gave a recap of everything metaverse the company did last year. Reality Labs is responsible for the company's metaverse aspirations. Per Bosworth, "about half" of Reality Labs' operating expense is now being put toward augmented reality. This shows an increased vigor from the company to come out with AR glasses sooner than its competitors.
Is Meta close to delivering AR glasses or not?
Meta is spending billions on making its first AR glasses. However, we may not see them anytime soon. It might even take more than the expected time as the company tries to make it slimmer, lighter, faster, and more powerful. However, Meta might be inching closer to its goal. The Quest Pro's passthrough video and Ray-Ban Stories are indications of that.
Meta acquired Luxexcel which makes prescription glasses for AR experience
To make its AR journey faster, Meta has not shied away from making necessary acquisitions. Most recently, the company acquired Netherlands-based Luxexcel, a company that 3D prints prescription glasses that can be put inside AR glasses. Per the company, it can integrate the elements needed to create an AR experience in prescription glasses. This acquisition may help Meta save time on creating smart displays.