Facebook says the next product it launches will be a pair of Ray-Ban “smart glasses” — a product founder Mark Zuckerberg says is part of the company’s push to build a “metaverse company.”
“The next product release will be the launch of our first smart glasses from Ray-Ban in partnership with EssilorLuxottica,” Zuckerberg told investors during Facebook’s second quarter earnings call on Wednesday. “The glasses have their iconic form factor, and they let you do some pretty neat things.”
The world’s fourth-richest man did not say exactly what “neat things” the glasses will do nor when they will come out. Facebook did not immediately reply to a request for details.
Nonetheless, Zuckerberg said the secretive specs are a stepping stone toward Facebook’s larger augmented and virtual reality ambitions.
“These efforts are also part of a much larger goal: to help build the metaverse,” he said.
The idea of the metaverse — a recent obsession for Zuckerberg — describes a virtual shared space that melds the internet, augmented reality and virtual reality. Users will be able to do everything from socialize to work to shop in the metaverse, according to the CEO.
“You can kind of think about this as an embodied Internet that you’re inside of rather than just looking at,” Zuckerberg said. “We believe that this is going to be the successor to the mobile Internet.”
“The defining quality of the metaverse is presence, which is this feeling that you’re really there with another person or in another place,” he added. “Creation, avatars, and digital objects are going to be central to how we express ourselves, and this is going to lead to entirely new experiences and economic opportunities.”
Facebook will make money by selling ads throughout the metaverse, Zuckerberg said.
But Facebook’s sci-fi ambitions faced an embarrassing setback on Wednesday when the company revealed it was recalling a part found in 4 million Oculus virtual reality headsets after thousands of users reported that it caused skin irritation.
Rashes aside, Zuckerberg told investors that Facebook’s augmented and virtual reality offerings will eventually mean that it will no longer be primarily considered a social media company.
“In the coming years, I expect people will transition from seeing us primarily as a social media company to seeing us as a metaverse company,” he said.