Meta has decided not to sell the first version of its full AR glasses, codenamed Orion, and will instead distribute it to developers so they can build software experiences for the device and future versions, one person told The Verge. familiar with the matter. The company is also shelving plans to launch a smartwatch with a detachable screen and two cameras in favor of a design better suited to controlling a later version of the glasses. The first version of the AR glasses, which have been in development for three years, was always going to be aimed at developers and early adopters, but executives hadn’t decided whether to sell them widely until now, the person said. Employees who work at Meta’s Reality Labs division building VR and AR hardware were informed of the decision this week. The Information first reported the news on Thursday. Version two of the glasses is still on track for a consumer release. As The Verge detailed in April, Meta is working on three standalone AR goggle iterations to debut in the next few years. The decision not to sell version one was made because the device costs thousands of dollars to build and executives believe that certain specifications, such as screen brightness, are not consumer ready. Not selling the glasses to consumers mimics Snap’s approach, which also doesn’t sell its AR Spectacles glasses, instead giving them to software developers. Version two of the glasses, codenamed Artemis, remains on track for a higher-volume consumer release with a less bulky design and more advanced display technology. As soon as next year, Meta also plans to release a cheaper, entry-level version of the AR goggles, codenamed Hypernova, that will pair with a nearby phone to display incoming messages and other notifications via a touch screen. smaller display. In addition to not selling its first pair of standalone AR glasses, Meta decided this week to cancel its planned dual-camera smartwatch, mainly because its detachable screen design made it difficult to implement EMG technology to control upcoming AR glasses with brain signals. Meta believes that having an EMG-enabled first device is critical to controlling your planned set of glasses, and has pivoted to focus entirely on a design that better supports EMG at the wrist. That move along with photos of the canned device was first reported by Bloomberg. A Meta spokesperson declined to comment on this story beyond this tweet from CTO Andrew Bosworth saying that the company is “shipping wrist wearable devices and AR glasses that will bring entirely new technology” to the world:
We are going to ship wrist wearable devices and AR glasses that will bring entirely new technology, like EMG, to market. The path to innovative products is not a straight line. As is common in our industry, we iterate on multiple prototypes in parallel and change resources as we learn. — Boz (@boztank) June 9, 2022
These changes, along with a planned move to market its Portal line of video chat devices for businesses, come as Meta is reevaluating its spending on projects amid a sharp drop in inventory. Later this year, the company still plans to introduce a high-end mixed reality headset, codenamed Cambria, to take over Apple’s planned headset.