Facebook disrupted the virtual-reality market with its popular Oculus headset line, but now the social-media giant is scheming to take over another adjacent market: augmented reality (AR).
In a fascinating new blog, Oculus' parent company delved into its intriguing plans to develop an AR head-mounted display that will catapult the future of audio technology to new, innovative heights.
- Oculus VR: You will not be able to log in without a Facebook account
- Oculus Go to be discontinued -- Facebook intensifies its focus on Quest
Facebook's future vision for AR glasses
Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) Research — consisting of engineers, designers and research scientists — is the unit that is working on launching a pair of AR spectacles that will offer users superhuman auditory senses.
The FRL Research team has two ambitious objectives: inspire people to reassess the definition of "human hearing" and create digital sounds that are indistinguishable from reality.
The social-media giant hinted that it plans to launch AR glasses to benefit users who'd love to be in two places at once. A woman, for example, could virtually attend her daughter's dance recital via Facebook's AR glasses while tending to her sick son at home — and she would be able to see and hear everything around her as if she was truly at the event.
"The only reason we need for virtual sound to be made real is so that I can put a virtual person in front of me and have a social interaction with them as if they were really there," Research Lead Philip Robinson said.
FRL Research is also hoping that its AR glasses could be used in loud environments (e.g. concerts, coffee shops and restaurants) by amplifying the target sound while drowning out unwanted audio. Phone and video calls is another area Facebook intends to tackle. With Facebook AR, the speaker will sound so crystal-clear, you'd be convinced the person is sitting right next to you.
Facebook's current progress with super-sonic AR glasses
FRL's audio team already spearheaded technological sound feats such as spatialized audio, which mimics the "direction" of sounds, and high-quality acoustic simulation — an invention that makes virtual surroundings "believable."
You can find these technologies in the Oculus Quest and Rift VR platforms. But where is Facebook now on its journey to virtual-sound nirvana?
The social-media tech giant is currently working on ditching one-size-fits-all approaches to sound in favor of personalized audio experiences. The conglomerate isn't sure how they'll accomplish assessing users for personalized audio solutions, but the company hopes to make it as simple as taking a photo of one's ears.
The Facebook post hints that, as it stands now, its AR glasses has multiple microphones to capture the users' surrounding audio. It also has head-and-eye tracking technology so that the spectacles can have "intuition" to know which sounds are most important to the user.
Facebook isn't the only big-name company working on AR glasses. This tech giant will have some major competition. Apple is also working on releasing AR spectacles within the next few years. To keep abreast on Apple AR news, check out our oft-updated Apple Glass rumor hub.
Facebook's AR glasses sound like an audiophile's dream! We can't wait for this product to hit store shelves so we can test it out ourselves.
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Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!