"We are building AR glasses" - emblazoned on a giant screen behind Andrew Bosworth, Vice President of VR/AR at Facebook at the Oculus Connect developer conference in California
In case you didn’t jet to sunny San Jose for the conference, here are the key takeaways:
MAP THE WORLD
This isn’t Facebook’s first foray into digital cartography. The Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) team intend to create a global live map, calculating user’s exact location, view and preferences to create multi-layered representations of the world. The success of this would rely on mobile and AR devices to scan user surroundings to create a live dynamic index, constantly updated through crowd-sourced data.
DIFFERENT APPROACH TO VR
When Oculus’s first-generation developer VR was launched, there were certainly a lot of tweaks still to do. This fitted in with Facebook’s internal mantra of, ‘Get things out as soon as you can, and try to learn from that’.
The FRL team is taking a different approach to bringing an AR solution to market. The early launch of Oculus’ VR headsets benefited from mobile phone technology cheaply available at the time. Conversely, the technology available in the AR market is still very much in the premium/luxury threshold, with Magic Leap and Microsoft products at $2300 and $3500 respectively.
As they want to debut with a consumer AR device, FRL explained that the information and learnings that they would gain from luxury early adopters would not be representative of the wider population’s future needs. In short, we need to reach a critical mass of technology, price, adoption, and data to make the experience worthwhile for users.
WHEN IS THIS HAPPENING?
Considering the FRL team is looking to map the world, we could be waiting a while to get our hands (and eyes) on the Facebook AR glasses.
Facebook’s Live map promises to make the world, ‘more immediate, more intuitive, more natural and more human’.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the day when I can walk around the street food market on holiday, whilst identifying and ordering the ingredients through my AR glasses to recreate when I get home. Until that day, I’ll just have to make do with my local takeaway.