AUGMENTED REALITY SPECS is the wearable dream that won't die; Facebook this week confirmed it's making a pair but reckons it needs to build an AR-mapped world first.
At the Oculus Connect developer conference on Wednesday, the social network spouted about the fact it's making AR glasses and said its new "Live Maps" project will help make such specs useful rather than a flash in the pan like the Google Glass was for the consumer world.
Live Maps is being developed by Facebook's Reality Labs division and aims to effectively create a multi-layered virtual representation of the real world.
The use of crowdsourced data, phone footage, traditional maps, and machine-learning computer vision will create a data-rich AR infrastructure to underpin its future goggles and deliver useful information at a glance, much like smartphones currently do.
The idea is that this would bypass the need to effectively map a world in real-time so AR specs know what their wearer is looking at and then serve up relevant information. You can liken this a little to Google's Street View where you're looking at already processed images rather than real-time footage.
In theory, this could make AR more useful and less demanding for a connected smartphone or integrated chipset for example; though we're speculating here as other details are thin on the ground.
There are obvious privacy issues related to how Facebook will create Live Maps beyond currently available data; if it harvests new information it'll need to make sure it does so with privacy in mind to avoid further scandals.
Given Facebook is already involved in virtual reality with Oculus, it makes sense that it would push deeper into the AR world. And with its significant clout and access to information, there's a good chance Facebook could come up with a genuinely useful pair of AR specs, just don't expect them anytime soon. µ
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