What is Project Aria?

July 19, 2021

What is Project Aria?

Facebook Reality Labs is exploring all kinds of new research for possible new technology. However, some consumers might have heard about Project Aria. Facebook emphasizes that Project Aria is NOT for consumers, and the glasses used for Project Aria also are not augmented reality.

So what is Project Aria? Here’s everything to know about the project, the people consumers could encounter in the world and what to possibly expect in the future.

You Can’t Buy Project Aria Glasses

There are Project Aria glasses, but these wearables are not for the consumer. Project Aria glasses are used to collect visual data of the world; they are worn by researchers. And these glasses aren’t augmented reality technology. Consumers should not view the Project Aria glasses as the new or future prototype of augmented reality glasses about to be unleashed by Facebook.

While there always seems to be buzz around augmented reality glasses by one of the major tech companies, Project Aria glasses are not going to be the next new Facebook product. They are for research, and, according to Facebook, these special glasses will be used by Facebook employees or contractors. Facebook further explains that the company will “…be asking people of diverse backgrounds to participate in the program to create an accurate and varied view of the world.”

About Project Aria

So what exactly is Project Aria if it isn’t some new future product? Again, the project is all about collecting data on the real world and how the wearer sees and explores this world. The glasses will help Facebook regarding augmented reality development.

Facebook explains that “Sensors on the Project Aria research device will capture the wearer’s video and audio, as well as their eye tracking and location information.”  The glasses can store this information and then it can be used to discover “…how AR can work in the real world.”

Live Maps

Data from Project Aria also could help Facebook create Live Maps or 3D maps of the world. Facebook explains that augmented reality devices need to understand the real world around the user via a 3D map of spaces would be necessary. Ideally, an augmented reality device would change and update as data changes in the real world. So data would be updated when a business changes names. Facebook notes that Project Aria “… is testing out how this can work in practice.”

What is Project Aria

Are Researchers Incognito?

Project Aria is an in-depth project. The general public might be curious about how researchers will make themselves known. Or will they make themselves known? Are Facebook’s researchers undercover for this ambitious project?

Facebook’s team of researchers aren’t undercover operatives! The members of the public will be able to identify them. Facebook explains that team members will wear clothing that makes them known as members of Project Aria; researchers also will wear lanyards with information about a website for consumers to visit about the project.

And the device—or glasses—won’t be secretly collecting data. Facebook explains that the glasses will show a white light when recording.

Will the Public Be Taped Without Consent?

Privacy is a big deal. Facebook has explained that team members for Project Aria will receive training on when it is and is NOT ok to record (like in a locker room). However, members of the public might not want to be recorded.

Facebook explains: “We’re also instructing all Project Aria research participants to comply with any requests from people in the near vicinity that they stop recording and/or delete relevant data.”

In addition, Project Aria devices also don’t include face recognition capabilities (per Facebook). So Joe Smith isn’t going to be identified as Joe Smith!

What is Project Aria

Is Project Aria Global?

If information is gathered, will it go global? Will Facebook employees be scoping out Paris? Rome? Barcelona?

Project Aria is limited to the United States. Facebook is gathering information in Seattle and San Francisco (the Bay Area). Individuals living in these areas might see some Facebook researchers with glasses on!

Are Augmented Reality Glasses around the Corner?

With Project Aria pursuing the data to make augmented reality glasses more of a reality, are augmented reality glasses a ‘coming soon’ commodity?

While there is constant buzz about augmented reality glasses (especially related to Facebook), according to CNET, these glasses “…are years away.”  However, consumers who really want the next big thing from the social media giant might put new glasses on their wish list.

Facebook x Ray-Ban glasses are coming soon. What they look like and what features they may include, though, aren’t yet known. One piece of data is known…they won’t include augmented reality! Given the partnership with Ray-Ban, the new glasses may be pretty chic.

Augmented Reality Glasses: What the Future Holds

Facebook’s augmented reality glasses might be years away, but Project Aria is still exciting in that it shows that the future of augmented reality could be incredibly cool. Augmented reality glasses of some variety may be the next big thing. When these glasses will launch is anyone’s guess, but a consumer-driven pair of glasses might be the new reality.

Currently, most consumers experience extended reality using a virtual reality headset. While Facebook’s Oculus headsets are fairly priced, the technology isn’t owned by everyone like a smartphone. Virtual reality is common, but is it fully mainstream? That might be up for debate.

Again, while the price point of some headsets are reasonable (especially for Oculus), some users might not favor the bulkiness of a headset. So the excitement surrounding glasses might be related to their sleeker look and lighter weight (one would assume they would be lighter).

The big question, though, might be what users experience with these glasses. Currently, augmented reality experiences are vast. Many are explored via smartphones. Museums use augmented reality features to enhance some exhibits. Augmented reality also lets consumers preview products in a room…or even on their faces (in the case of cosmetics!).

Augmented reality glasses could allow these experiences to be accessible without a separate device. Or maybe wearing augmented reality glasses lets the user explore their world in a new way. Augmented reality type apps already let users use their camera to capture a plant in nature to identify it. Imagine wearing glasses where the user looks at a plant or animal and data pops up related to its identification. This would be an easy way to avoid poison ivy!

The app SkyView Lite lets users identify constellations in the sky. Could augmented reality glasses peer up at the sky and suddenly reveal data about the stars? Would these glasses download augmented reality apps or would this data be programmed?

The potential for augmented reality is far-reaching. As these glasses are simply in the research phase, their features are very much a mystery until augmented reality glasses become a consumer reality.

Augmented Reality Glasses…and Gaming!

The future of augmented reality glasses obviously might include gaming, too. Popular augmented reality games like Pokemon GO and Harry Potter: Wizard Unite can be downloaded to phones and other devices.

Augmented reality glasses could change gaming, though. The augmented reality experience would be experienced firsthand; not simply through a phone or tablet. Pokemon could pop up in front of those augmented reality glasses!

Running away from zombies with the app Zombies, Run! could be amplified with augmented reality glasses. The runner wouldn’t have to pay attention to a phone. The glasses would allow the experience to happen seamlessly. The zombies would be part of the user’s line of vision, and perhaps this could enhance the fun of the run…and the game!

Augmented Communication

What about phone calls or meetings? Could glasses augment those experiences, too? Who knows, but Nissan’s Invisible to Visible technology will allow for avatars to appear in a car with the use of glasses.

When augmented reality glasses become a reality, imagine if avatars of friends and family appeared before our eyes during conversations. Or maybe augmented reality allows for video calls to take place in front of our eyes. No more staring at a screen to participate in virtual meetings!

Project Aria: A Melody of Possibilities

While Facebook researchers may be busy collecting data for Project Aria, the potential for this data could be far reaching in relation to augmented reality. Creating a 3D map of surroundings could allow for augmented reality to reach different aspects of our world and our daily experiences.

One day a simple pair of glasses could show the user information about the weather and maybe even warn them to take shelter from an impending storm. Getting lost might never happen. What if the user could enter data related to where they are going and the glasses help them find their way in a busy city. While augmented reality glasses from Facebook might be years away, their potential could be life-changing. And one day augmented reality glasses could be the next smartphone—yet another device we never knew we needed but now cannot live without!