The world’s largest social networking site, Facebook, has confirmed it’s working on augmented reality (AR) glasses, which will complement its Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset. While VR headsets have software that presents an interactive, immersive virtual world, AR headsets use either screens or transparent lenses to place digital items atop the real world.
Given the increasing demand for AR devices in sectors like healthcare, retail and e-commerce, the AR market is expected to grow from $11.14 billion in 2018 to $60.55 billion by 2023, according to research firm, MarketsandMarkets.
Facebook’s AR headset plans put it in direct competition with companies like Microsoft Corp., Google and Apple Inc. who have already invested in AR technology. Microsoft is considered a leader with its HoloLens product, while Google Glass, which failed as a consumer product, is now being developed for the enterprise. The Google Glass Enterprise Edition features a similar design as the original, with some upgraded hardware.
Apple, too, has acquired AR hardware developers like Akonia Holographics and Vrvana Inc. to accelerate development of its own headsets. Then there are promising startups like Magic Leap and Thalmic Labs Inc. that are starting to release their first headsets and glasses.
One of the most anticipated AR headsets is the Magic Leap Lightwear headsets for enterprise users. The headsets will attach to a small box called the Lightpack worn on a belt that contains the processor and graphics card. When activated, the headsets will overlay virtual experience onto the real world.
However, experts feel the problem with Facebook’s AR glasses is the company may face some privacy concerns.