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Facebook to Launch Line of Smart Glasses in 2021, Starting With AR-Enabled Ray-Bans

Variety — Todd Spangler

Facebook is launching new line of wearables: The social giant is developing the “next generation” of smart glasses, in partnership with European eyewear company EssilorLuxottica.

The first product under the multiyear pact will be branded Ray-Ban, scheduled to launch in 2021. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the pact during the Facebook Connect virtual conference, where the company’s Oculus division also unveiled the next-gen Quest 2 wireless VR headset.

The new smart Ray-Bans will mirror the display of a connected smartphone, according to Zuckerberg.

“After spending time with [EssilorLuxottica’s] team and visiting their factory, I knew that they were the right partner for us to help bring the best technology together with the best glasses,” Zuckerberg said during the Facebook Connect event.

For now, there’s scant info on the Facebook-powered Ray-Bans. The companies said the product name, specifications, software capabilities, pricing and other details will be shared closer to launch in 2021.

The partnership with EssilorLuxottica will build on Facebook’s Project Aria, a prototype research device (pictured above) that gathers data for machine perception and AI research. “It is worn like regular glasses and will help us build the software — including a live map of 3D spaces — and hardware necessary for future AR devices,” the company says. Sensors on the Project Aria research device will capture the wearer’s video and audio, as well as their eye tracking and location information. The glasses’ on-device computing power will then be used to encrypt and store information that, when uploaded to separate, designated back-end storage systems, will help Facebook researchers “figure out how AR can work in the real world.”

The EssilorLuxottica/Facebook partnership will combine Facebook apps and technologies, along with Luxottica’s brands and Essilor’s advanced lens technology “to help people stay better connected to their friends and family,” according to the companies. EssilorLuxottica’s eyewear brands include Ray-Ban, Oakley, Armani, and Versace.

“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,” said Andrew Bosworth, VP of Facebook Reality Labs. “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.”

Rocco Basilico, chief wearables officer at Luxottica, added that together with Facebook, “we can reset expectations around wearables. We are paving the way for a new generation of products destined to change the way we look at the world.”

Facebook released a teaser video for the new Ray-Ban smart glasses project:

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