In an earnings conference call on Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors that the company’s next hardware launch will be “smart glasses” made in partnership with the classic sunglasses supplier. Ray-Ban.
Zuckerberg entered the Ray-Ban announcement following a lengthy discussion of Facebook’s plans for Oculus Quest, its all-in-one virtual reality (VR) platform. Zuckerberg says social media is the real “killer app” for VR, drawing on data from Oculus Quest: “The most popular apps on Quest are social, which fits our original thesis [that] virtual reality will be a social platform. “
Zuckerberg wants the as yet unnamed smart glasses to be a stepping stone, not an end goal. He remained suspicious of their real purpose, saying only that the glasses “have their iconic form factor, and [let] you’re doing some pretty cool things ”, with no concrete details of what those“ cool things ”might be.
We know the glasses shouldn’t have an integrated display, thanks to The Verge’s report on their initial announcement in September 2020. Without display capabilities, Ray-Ban / Facebook glasses seem likely to fall into the same category as those from Amazon. Echo Frames or Lucyd Lyte — a rather normal-looking pair of sunglasses with built-in Bluetooth pairing and directional speakers that we reviewed in March.
Zuckerberg describes smart glasses as a stepping stone not only to virtual or augmented reality as we know it, but also to something he calls the metaverse. “So what is the metaverse?” It’s a virtual environment [like] an embodied Internet that you are in rather than just watching. And we believe it will be the successor to mobile Internet. “
After warning that building his vision will require significant investment not just from Facebook itself but from its entire ecosystem of partners, he doubled down on his eventual importance, stating, “In addition to being the next chapter of the internet, the metaverse is going to be the next chapter for us as a business as well. “