Meta’s first fully AR-ready smart glasses might arrive in 2024, opening the hardware floodgates for users to engage with CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s lofty metaverse experiences. According to a report from tech publication The Verge, Meta’s high-end AR smart glasses code-named Project Nazare will make their debut in the next couple of years. And it appears that the company is leaving no stones unturned as it attempts to deliver the best experience possible.
The AR glasses are said to look fairly normal, with black frames, and will sport a camera as well, a callback to the Project Aria AR glasses concept that Facebook announced in 2020. They would offer some impressive tech such as high-end waveguides, a stereo audio system built into the frame, microLED projectors for higher visual fidelity, and eye-tracking facility as well. The company is even working with semiconductor partners in China to develop custom chips.
However, Project Nazare won’t be a stand-alone pair of AR glasses. They will reportedly pair wirelessly with a smartphone-sized compute unit. Tipping the scales at roughly 100 grams, Meta’s AR glasses are touted to let users see and interact with a holographic view of other people. During the Facebook Connect presentation last year, Zuckerberg also gave a rough demo of what interaction between a real person and a holographic avatar might look like in the metaverse via its AR glasses.
The Meta chief is reportedly chasing full-fledged AR experiences topped with 3D graphics for the company’s first AR glasses, alongside a large field of view that exceeds the 70-degrees mark. “A socially acceptable” design is also a priority, something Meta achieved to an extent with the Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses. Aesthetics are important because people are apprehensive about wearing odd-looking, bulky smartglasses on their faces in public places. A woman was allegedly attacked for wearing Google Glass years ago, and there’s a whole list of outlets, from restaurants to pet shops, that banned Google’s wearable device.
Meta’s smart glasses might also come bundled with advanced bracelets that detect neural signals and predict what tasks users want to accomplish. A demonstration of the tech by Facebook last year showed users interacting with multiple floating windows in the air, shooting an arrow from an AR bow, and typing on a virtual keyboard. For folks familiar with Tony Stark’s lab shenanigans in Marvel’s movies, Meta appears to be chasing just that kind of wrist-based interaction.
But all that bleeding edge wearable AR tech will come with a hefty price tag. The material costs reportedly run into the thousands of dollars. The Verge’s Alex Heath mentioned in a live audio chatroom hosted on Spaces that the cost of making the AR glasses is well past $2,000. Facebook is reportedly planning to heavily subsidize the Project Nazare AR glasses to boost their market uptake, a strategy it already follows for selling Oculus VR headsets.
Meta knows that all too well, which is why the company has modest targets of moving units of “in the low tens of thousands” for its first AR glasses. But Project Nazare is just the start. Meta has already chalked out plans for second- and third-generation AR glasses tentatively slated for 2026 and 2028, respectively. The company’s smartwatches will also offer some form of integration with the AR glasses down the road.
A more affordable pair of smart glasses is in the pipeline as well. Currently in development under the code name Project Hypernova, these will offer fewer AR experiences and will pair with a smartphone to push notifications and alerts on the glasses’ display. Project Hypernova is also aiming for a 2024 release, but details on its capabilities are under wraps. It’s important to keep in mind that all the information above comes from unnamed sources talking about a project in active development, which means the plans might change significantly down the road.