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2022-06-10 21:11:57 By : Ms. CIndy Liu

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By Tom Pritchard published 10 June 22

Facebook/Meta may be refocussing its AR ambitions

Last we heard the Meta AR Glasses were a huge priority for the company. Especially CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who reportedly saw the glasses as an “iPhone moment” and a way to get out from under the thumb of Apple and Google. But that may no longer be the case.

A new report from The Information (opens in new tab) claims Meta/Facebook is dialing back its plans for AR glasses. While this is a blow to the project, it seems other hardware is also on the chopping block. Portal smart displays are reportedly being shifted away from the consumer market, and the long-rumored Facebook watch has apparently been cancelled.

Originally we’d heard that Facebook/Meta had planned to launch the first Meta AR Glasses, codenamed Project Nazare, in late 2024. But according to The Information’s reports, plans have changed, and the glasses won’t be released commercially. 

Apparently this change is due to the company’s plans to cut back on big investment at Reality Labs, which is involved with research and development of both augmented and virtual reality.

So what’s the plan now? A source told The Information that the new plan is to use the first Meta AR Glasses as a demonstration product. If I were to speculate, I’d guess that the first generation glasses will be a proof of concept and a tool for developers. That way developers can get to work creating apps and acclimating to augmented reality systems in anticipation of a commercial product.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because the Apple VR/AR headset is rumored to be in a similar position. While the headset will reportedly go on sale in 2023, it’s main purpose is apparently to ensure developers have the tools and experience needed to create apps for the AR Apple Glasses.

Meta/Facebook will release AR Glasses at some point, only the plan is apparently to focus on the second generation model — codenamed Artemis. A previous report suggested that the second-gen model would arrive in 2026, though it’s not clear whether that timeline is still in the cards.

It’s not clear what this means for the rumored cheaper AR glasses, codenamed Hypernova, which were reliant on a smartphone connection rather than operating as an independent device.

Development on the Meta smartwatch, which was rumored to have dual cameras, has been halted altogether according to Bloomberg (opens in new tab) . The watch was supposedly able to function as a controller, translating nerve signals in the wrist into commands for other compatible devices. A process called electromyography.

Electromyography is supposedly an important part of Facebook’s metaverse ambitions. The idea being that sensors on the wrist would allow users to control their avatars or interact with digital objects. However, it’s reported that the Meta watch’s camera was causing issues, likely leading to its cancelation. Other smartwatches are reportedly still in development at the company.

As for Portal, Facebook is reportedly repositioning this as a business device. It’s suspected that Portal will be promoted as a tool for hybrid working, particularly since the latest models are compatible with both Zoom and Microsoft teams.

I assume that means marketing Portal as a conference-room tool, rather than a product for remote workers that already have devices like laptops and tablets.

All in all, this isn’t a great collection of news for whatever hardware ambitions Facebook might have. But hey, at least Oculus headsets are still some of the best VR headsets around — despite the awkward rebranding.

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online. 

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