Meta is set to unveil a groundbreaking augmented reality (AR) glasses prototype in 2024, signaling a significant milestone in AR technology. This announcement represents the culmination of a robust and extensive commitment to AR development by the tech giant.
Over eight years, Meta has invested tens of billions of dollars in AR technology. CEO Mark Zuckerberg envisions these efforts leading to a transformative event reminiscent of the iPhone’s debut, marking a new era in technological advancement.
Meta’s strategy for its first AR glasses, Orion, has evolved from a consumer product launch to a developer-centric approach. The Verge’s Alex Heath reported that Meta now intends to distribute Orion to select developers in 2024, positioning it as a demonstration of AR’s future capabilities rather than a consumer product.
Meta’s CTO, Andrew Bosworth, confirmed that internal testing of the glasses by Meta employees is slated for the next year. He also alluded to the possibility of public interaction with the prototype in 2024, stating, “I think there’s a pretty good chance that people will get a chance to play with it in 2024.”
Bosworth expressed high expectations for the prototype, describing it as “probably our most exciting prototype that we’ve had to date.” He boldly claimed, “I think it might be the most advanced piece of technology on the planet in its domain. In the domain of consumer electronics, it might be the most advanced thing that we’ve ever produced as a species.” However, he acknowledged the financial barriers, noting the prototype’s prohibitively expensive technology path and the significant work ahead to make it accessible at a consumer electronics price point.
The Orion prototype is a testament to Meta’s technological prowess, featuring microLED displays and silicon carbide waveguides. These advanced components offer unprecedented efficiency and brightness but present significant manufacturing and cost challenges.
To make the AR glasses viable for mass production, Meta plans to use more affordable components such as LCoS displays and glass waveguides. This approach represents a practical compromise, balancing technological innovation with market feasibility
Meta’s challenges in developing AR glasses mirror the wider industry’s struggle to bring transparent AR glasses from concept to consumer product. Other tech giants, including Apple and Google, have faced similar hurdles, underscoring the complexity of pioneering in AR technology.
Meta’s ambitious project to develop AR glasses marks a pivotal step in the evolution of AR technology. While the path from a high-end prototype to a consumer-ready product is fraught with challenges, the transformative potential of AR in the consumer electronics domain remains vast and exciting. As Meta continues to innovate, the tech world watches with anticipation for what might be the next big leap in consumer technology.