Facebook owner Meta is bringing its augmented reality (AR) research program to London as the company seeks to develop hardware for the Metaverse.
The company will test its research glasses on the streets of London to understand what data the glasses need to capture to build software for future AR products.
The device’s sensors capture video and audio and combine it with location data and eye tracking information.
Researchers will wear high-visibility jackets and faces captured by the goggle camera will be automatically blurred to protect pedestrian privacy.
The program, known as Project Aria, began in San Francisco in September 2020 with up to 3,000 Meta employees and contractors wearing the devices. They are not accessible to the public and are only used for data collection purposes.
These efforts are part of Meta’s drive to develop new products and services for the Metaverse – an online virtual world that founder Mark Zuckerberg says will one day become an integral part of everyday life. He staked his company’s future on this idea last year when he renamed Facebook to Meta.
Tech giants have been using and developing smart glasses for years, with mixed success.
In 2014, Google made its Google Glass product available to consumers with a price tag of $1,500 before retiring the product a year later. It was replaced in 2017 by Google Glass Enterprise Edition, an updated pair of smart glasses for use in specialized business cases such as logistics and manufacturing.
In 2016, Microsoft also launched its own line of smart glasses, the HoloLens, which worked on its “mixed reality” platform to project virtual elements of the Microsoft operating system onto the real world.
Meta says the glasses aren’t a prototype and won’t be available to consumers in the near future.
The company recently partnered with RayBan to develop sunglasses with cameras installed so people can share their experiences on social media. The product rivaled “Snapchat Spectacles” smart glasses.