Meta has decided not to sell the first version of its full-fledged AR glasses, codenamed Orion, and will instead distribute them to developers so they can create software experiences for the device and future releases, a said someone familiar with the matter. The edge. The company is also ditching plans to release a smartwatch with a removable display and dual cameras in favor of a design better suited to controlling a later version of the glasses.
The first version of the AR glasses, in development for three years, was always going to be aimed at developers and early adopters, but executives hadn’t decided to sell them at scale until now, the person said. Employees working in Meta’s Reality Labs division that build VR and AR hardware were notified of the decision this week. Information first announced the news on Thursday.
As The edge detailed in April, Meta is working on three iterations of standalone AR glasses that will debut over the next few years. The decision not to sell the first version was made because the device costs thousands of dollars to build and executives believe that some specs, like screen brightness, aren’t consumer-ready. Not selling the glasses to consumers mimics Snap’s approach, which also doesn’t sell its AR Spectacles glasses but instead gives them to software developers.
Version two of the glasses, codenamed Artemis, remains on track for mainstream release at a higher production volume with a less bulky design and more advanced display technology. Starting next year, Meta also plans to release a cheaper entry-level version of the AR glasses, dubbed Hypernova, which will pair with a nearby phone to show incoming messages and other notifications via a head-mounted display. high smaller.
In addition to not selling its first pair of standalone AR glasses, Meta this week decided to cancel its planned smartwatch with dual cameras, mainly because its removable display design made it difficult to implement EMG technology to control the next AR glasses with brain signals. Meta considers having a first device with EMG technology essential to controlling its planned eyewear suite, and it has pivoted to fully focus on a design that better supports EMG at the wrist. This movement accompanied by photos of the canned device was first reported by Bloomberg.
A spokesperson for Meta wouldn’t comment on this story beyond this tweet from CTO Andrew Bosworth saying the company “will be shipping wearable wristbands and AR glasses that bring brand new technology” to the world:
We will be shipping wearable wristbands and AR glasses that bring brand new technology, like EMG, to market. The path to breakthrough products is not a straight line. As is common in our industry, we iterate through multiple prototypes in parallel and change resources as we learn.
— Boz (@boztank) June 9, 2022
These changes, along with the planned shift to market its Portal line of video chat devices to enterprises, all come as Meta reassesses its spending on projects amid a sharp drop in inventory. Later this year, the company still plans to release a high-end mixed reality headset, named Cambria, to support Apple’s planned headset.