Ficus Kirkpatrick, head of augmented reality at social media giant Facebook, recently hinted at the company’s plans to enter the world of augmented reality glasses in an interview with TechCrunch.
“Yeah! Well of course we’re working on it… We want to see those glasses come into reality, and I think we want to play our part in helping to bring them there,” Kirkpatrick said.
— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) October 24, 2018
Facebook and AR
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, has long expressed interest in AR content. He had also said that Facebook would wait for technology to become advanced enough.
That was at a time when Facebook was just a social media company. In recent years they have been expanding their services with a video streaming service and the purchase of VR powerhouse Oculus. It’s also begun releasing hardware with the recent Portal.
After the purchase of Oculus, the research branch of Oculus was renamed “Facebook Labs”. The labs didn’t make a whole lot of noise outside of developing content for Oculus. However, around a year ago, a few years after purchasing Oculus, Facebook submitted a patent for augmented reality glasses.
What We Know
We don’t currently know very much about what Facebook’s augmented reality glasses might do, what they might cost, or how they might work. We also have no idea when they might become available. That’s especially true given Facebook’s claims that AR is a thing of the future, closely followed by their submitting a patent application for AR technology. A device could be years away or just around the corner.
Facebook’s purchase of Oculus gives few clues, as Oculus hasn’t made any augmented reality technology. There are few companies that have and, as far as we know, Facebook isn’t partnering with any of them. At least, not on this project.
There is also room to wonder whether people will trust augmented reality glasses from Facebook. First, there have long been concerns about the security of AR devices, which require access to one’s surroundings that VR devices don’t. Second, there have also long been concerns about Facebook’s handling of personal information.
Many of these concerns are also true of Facebook’s Portal. We don’t yet have a great idea of how popular – and trusted – Portal is with consumers yet. When sales numbers are available, however, it should give us a better idea of how marketable Facebook’s augmented reality glasses might be.
We currently have more questions than answers about Facebook’s venture into AR technology. You may also be wary of Facebook entering the field at all. No matter how you may feel about it or what questions you may have, it should be exciting that a company as big as Facebook is entering the market.