Seriously, Why Do We Need Smart Glasses?

Facebook is putting a lot of resources behind the tech, but it currently lacks purpose

Facebook glasses
Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images

If “smart” glasses aren’t going to do much, why is Facebook investing so much into the tech?

As a recent report in Bloomberg noted, Facebook plans to release enhanced glasses sometime in 2021, but most likely without augmented reality, the technology that overlays digital objects into your real-world POV.

Without AR, why are we wearing these?

“These are certainly connected glasses, they are certainly providing a lot of functionality, [but] we’re being quite coy about which functionality precisely we are providing … we’re not even calling it augmented reality, we’re just calling it ‘smart glasses,’” as Facebook hardware chief Andrew Bosworth said, rather confusingly.

The social media giant reportedly has over 6,000 people working on AR, VR and hardware, making it a pretty large unit within the company. If the first iteration is simply a way to take photos — as the Bloomberg article suggests, well, we’ve already been there with Google Glass, a similar technology that creeped people out about privacy but certainly had (and has) applications for workers in specialized fields. Snap also offers multiple versions of their augmented Spectacles, which at this point seems to be where Facebook is headed with their glasses.

Admittedly, we don’t know everything about Facebook’s new lenses, except that they’re a collaboration with Ray-Ban. A recent post by Bosworth about the company’s 2021 tech plans only included a single sentence on smart glasses, with more emphasis placed on other AR efforts as well as their VR headsets (via Oculus) and video conferencing tech like Portal.

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