Mark Zuckerberg met with Leonardo Del Vecchio to plan “new smart glasses” and demo Meta’s neural wristband.
“Great to be back in Milan to discuss plans for new smart glasses with Leonardo Del Vecchio and the EssilorLuxottica team. Here Leonardo is using a prototype of our neural interface EMG wristband that will eventually let you control your glasses and other devices. “
Del Vecchio is the billionaire founder and chairman of Luxottica, the Italian company behind brands like Ray-Ban and Oakley. Meta and Luxottica have already collaborated on a smart glasses product which shipped in September, called Ray-Ban Stories. Stories are essentially camera glasses – they also have speakers and a microphone for music and phone calls but there is no display of any sort. Snapchat has been selling a similar product, Spectacles, since 2017.
Until now it was unclear just how important Meta saw this partnership to its long term ambitions. EssilorLuxottica has a near monopoly on the eyewear market worldwide – its brands like Ray-Ban and Oakley are some of the most recognizable on the planet. Maintaining this partnership could be a key element of Meta’s strategy to take on Apple later this decade.
Last month The Information reported Meta plans to launch a second generation of Ray Ban Stories in 2023. Separately, The Verge reported Meta plans two distinct glasses for 2024 – affordable heads-up display glasses codenamed Hypernova, and expensive true AR glasses codenamed Project Nazare.
The report also claimed both Nazare and Hypernova will be bundled with Meta’s in-development neural wristband – the device Zuckerberg is demoing to Del Vecchio. Meta has discussed its development openly. The device reads the neural signals passing through your arm from your brain to your hand, using EMG (electromyography). Such a device can track finger movement precisely before it even happens, and can even sense incredibly subtle gestures not clearly perceptible to others nearby.
“Everyone I’ve talked to who has tried a prototype of the band Meta is working on says it’s one of the most impressive tech demos they’ve ever experienced. If it works at scale, the company thinks it could have the next mouse and keyboard” The Verge’s Alex Heath wrote.
Zuckerberg’s “will eventually let you control your glasses and other devices” statement seems to back up The Verge’s claim of this device being bundled with Meta’s future glasses – and demoing it to Del Vecchio suggests the EssilorLuxottica partnership will go far beyond today’s Ray-Ban Stories.