In an earnings conference call on Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors that the organization’s next hardware launch will be “smart glasses” made in partnership with classic sunglasses vendor Ray-Ban.
Zuckerberg segued into the Ray-Ban declaration following a lengthy conversation of Facebook’s plans for Oculus Quest, its all-in-one virtual reality (VR) platform. Zuckerberg says that social media is the real “killer app” for VR, backing that with information 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 plans the at this point unnamed smart glasses to be a stepping stone, not an end goal. He stayed cagey about their actual purpose, saying just that the glasses “have their iconic form factor, and [let] you do some pretty neat things,” with no concrete insights regarding what those “neat things” may be.
We do realize that the glasses aren’t required to have an integrated display, on account of revealing from The Verge on the glasses’ initial declaration in September 2020. Without display capabilities, the Ray-Ban/Facebook glasses appear prone to fall in similar class as Amazon’s Echo Frames or Lucyd Lyte—a mostly normal-looking pair of sunglasses with integrated Bluetooth pairing and directional speakers that we reviewed in March.
Zuckerberg depicts the smart glasses as a stepping stone toward not only virtual or augmented reality as far as we might be concerned, but something he calls the metaverse. “So what is the metaverse? It’s a virtual environment [like] an embodied Internet that you’re inside of rather than just looking at. And we believe that this is going to be the successor to the mobile Internet.”
In the wake of caution that building his vision will require huge investment from Facebook itself as well as from its whole ecosystem of partners, he doubled down on its possible significance, saying, “In addition to being the next chapter of the Internet, the metaverse is also going to be the next chapter for us as a company.”