Facebook Inc has confirmed that it is now working on the development of augmented reality (AR) glasses to supplement its Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset. Virtual reality (VR) headsets integrate firmware that can present an interactive and immersive virtual world. In contrast, AR headsets use a combination of screens and transparent lenses in order to position digitally rendered objects into the real world spectrum.
Facebook’s announcement comes in wake of a recent industry report by the international research firm MarketsAndMarkets, that projects a sharp growth of the augmented reality (AR) market from $11.14 billion in 2018, to $60.55 billion by the year 2023.
Facebook’s plans to roll out AR headsets, engages the social networking giant in direct competition with companies such as Microsoft Corporation, Google and Apple Inc, all of whom have existing infrastructure to develop this technology. Microsoft is today considered a market leader in this segment, with its Hololens range of products. On the other hand, Google is developing its Google Glass technology for enterprise clients, after the product was deemed a failure in consumer markets. The Enterprise Edition of Google Glass features a similar design as the original consumer variant, with minor upgrades to the underlying hardware.
Apple Inc, in the meantime, has been busy acquiring augmented reality hardware manufacturers such as Akonia Holographics and Vrvana Inc in order to accelerate the development of Apple AR headsets. Outside the circle of influence of these major tech giants, some promising startups such as Magic Leap and Thalmic Labs Inc are in the process of debuting their primary range of headsets and glasses. Magic Leap has been in the news recently for successfully demonstrating its augmented reality experiences at various tech conferences. Of these, one of the most anticipated AR headsets is called ‘Magic Leap Lightwear’. Designed for enterprise users, these headsets are attached to a small box called the ‘Lightpack’, containing the processor and the graphics card. Users can wear the ‘Lightpack’ on a belt, facilitating superior portability.
It remains to be seen whether Facebook’s AR efforts can match up to the market dominance of existing giants and emerging startups, battling its existing user privacy concerns along the way.