Facebook is partnering with Ray-Ban manufacturer Luxottica to create “the next generation of smartglasses.” The announcement was made Wednesday during the Facebook’s annual AR/VR conference. The glasses will be launched in 2021.
The partnership with Ray-Ban is separate from Facebook’s wearable AR research prototype Project Aria, which the company will begin trials on with a limited number of employees and contractors later this month.
“We’re passionate about exploring devices that can give people better ways to connect with those closest to them,” said Andrew Bosworth, vice president of Facebook’s Reality Labs, in a press release. “Wearables have the potential to do that.”
Beyond thrilled to finally share a sneak peek of our Facebook partnership with Ray-Ban! Our first smart glasses will launch next year, and that’s just the beginning… The future will be a classic and it's coming in 2021 ???? pic.twitter.com/l9992ZQGoy
— Hugo Barra (@hbarra) September 16, 2020
The glasses will include Facebook’s apps and other technologies. However, there is still a lot of information we don’t yet know about the glasses, like how much they will cost and what they will be called. We do know that Facebook aims to make its smart-glasses appealing to the general public, not just those interested in wearables, by partnering with Ray-Ban to make an regular pair of sunglasses feel high-tech.
A video announcing the partnership between the two companies did not show much in terms of what the glasses will look like, but gave the impression that they won’t be clunky or “blinky” but iconic — like a classic pair of specs seen on the likes of James Dean and Marilyn Monroe.
“We are especially proud of our collaboration with Facebook, which projects an iconic brand like Ray-Ban into an increasingly digital and social future,” said Rocco Basilico, head of wearables at Luxottica. “Combining a brand that is loved and worn by millions of consumers around the globe with technology that has brought the world closer together, we can reset expectations around wearables.”
Facebook Reality Labs is a relatively new division for the company. It launched in 2018 to begin work on AR/VR development at both Oculus and its videoconferencing platform Portal.
Facebook’s jump into wearable glasses lags its competitors — other Big Tech companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple have already released AR glasses or have previously stated that they are working on newer iterations.