Facebook employees with video camera glasses are prowling the streets to do research on privacy (FB)

Project Aria, Facebook SmartglassesFacebook

Summary List Placement

Facebook is years deep into a project that aims to replace smartphones with augmented reality glasses.

Its first step toward that goal, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a broadcast on Wednesday, is creating a set of smartglasses — standard eyeglasses, but with "smart" functionality like cameras and wireless internet connectivity.

Those glasses are expected next year as part of a partnership with Luxottica Group, the parent company of several major glasses brands, like Ray-Ban, Oakley, Sunglass Hut, and LensCrafters. 

But before these smartglasses launch, Facebook is sending employees into the wild with their own sets of research glasses equipped with an array of cameras — similar to the mapping car Google might use for Google Street View, but with human beings. Participants in the initiative, known as "Project Aria," will be deployed on Facebook campuses and into public spaces where their glasses will capture the world around them.

"Like a mapping car, all participants will be easily identifiable by their clothing," Facebook Reality Labs head Andrew Bosworth said on Wednesday.

One example participant, seen above, has Facebook Reality Labs Research written on his shirt, and his camera-enabled glasses say "Research" in large white letters.

Here's a closer look at the glasses themselves:

Facebook Project Aria smartglassesFacebook

Participants are said to receive training ahead of deployment, and are advised against entering public bathrooms or prayer spaces while wearing the glasses. 

They goal is to map the environment "in real-world conditions, indoors and outdoors" as a means of determining best practices for a potential future where smartglasses and, eventually, augmented reality glasses are common. 

Critically, Bosworth said that all data collected by Project Aria participants will be "quarantined" before it's used for research by Facebook. Faces and license plates collected will be blurred, he said.

You can watch the full introduction video to Project Aria right here:


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