Is Zuckerberg Relying on His AR Glasses to Retrieve Meta’s Revenue?
New inventions from the social networking genius are coming soon in the form of AR glasses.
It seems like the Facebook CEO (Now the king of Meta) is nowhere near done with his inventions. Zuckerberg has come up with AR glasses that he calls to be the holy grail and he envisions that these glasses will change the relationship of humans with technology at a similar rate to when the smartphone was first introduced. These AR glasses are reportedly a part of the company’s Project Nazare and will likely emerge as a marquee product as CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants them to represent an “iPhone moment” for Meta. These AR glasses will work independently, meaning they will not require a phone to work, but a “phone-shaped device” may be needed for computing while an electrical pulse-based wearable would be required to control it.
Zuckerberg may have big hopes for smart glasses, but the near-term reality of the technology is far less lofty. The demonstrations during Zuckerberg’s Meta presentation, such as playing virtual chess on a real table with someone’s avatar, weren’t based on any functioning hardware or software and Meta doesn’t yet have a working, wearable prototype of its planned AR glasses but rather a stationary demonstration that sits on a table. Still, Zuckerberg has ambitious goals for when his high-tech glasses will be a reality. Employees are racing to deliver the first generation by 2024 and are already working on a lighter, more advanced design for 2026, followed by the third version in 2028.
Meta’s first AR glasses will reportedly be based on Android and offer an immersive augmented reality experience with 3D visuals. The glasses may feature an outward-facing camera and support eye detection, stereo audio, a wide field of view on cameras, and a “socially acceptable look.” The highlight of these glasses could be the feature that would allow users to communicate with others’ holograms just as Zuckerberg previewed when announcing the company’s rebranding last year. It is expected that the first marquee wearable from Meta will be technologically advanced. Zuckerberg apparently believes that the technology, which the company is working on currently, would provide a more interactive experience for users rather than letting them make video calls simply. Since the company is investing heavily in its first AR glasses, it is expecting the sales to be modest, to say the least. Meta might only sell the glasses in “low tens of thousands” to interested buyers and developers initially.
Meta’s CEO also sees the AR glasses, dubbed Project Nazare, as a way to get out from under the thumb of Apple and Google, which together dictate the terms that apps like Facebook have to abide by on mobile phones. The first version of Nazare is designed to work independently from a mobile phone with the assistance of a wireless, phone-shaped device that offloads parts of the computing required for the glasses to operate. A marquee feature will be the ability to communicate and interact with holograms of other people through the glasses, which Zuckerberg believes will, over time, provide people with a more immersive, compelling experience than the video calling that exists today.
Despite already spending billions on developing its AR glasses, Meta internally has tepid sales expectations in the low tens of thousands for the first version, which will be aimed at early adopters and developers. A price point hasn’t been decided, but the device will certainly be pricier than the company’s US$299 Quest VR headset, given that the AR glasses bill of materials is of multiple thousands of dollars. The cost will test Zuckerberg’s willingness to subsidize the price of the hardware to encourage adoption — a competitive strategy intended in part to undercut the margins enjoyed by other players like Apple.