Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week showed a prototype of the company’s wrist-worn XR controller to EssilorLuxottica, the Italian parent company behind Ray-Ban Stories camera glasses and a host of other conventional luxury eyewear brands. While it looks similar to what the company revealed last year, it definitely shows Meta’s confidence in the technology’s potential as the foundation of a future XR input device.
Posting on Instagram, Zuckerberg showed the prototype to EssilorLuxottica president and CEO Leonardo Del Vecchio squeezing two fingers together in what is likely a click-style selection gesture.
Here’s what Zuckerberg had to say about the trip:
“Great to be back in Milan to discuss plans for new smart glasses with Leonardo Del Vecchio and the EssilorLuxottica team. Here Leonardo uses a prototype of our neural interface EMG wristband that will eventually allow you to control your glasses and other devices.”
Zuckerberg hasn’t said much, but the device looks very familiar, albeit a little rougher than what the company unveiled in March 2021.
The wrist controller, which exists thanks to the acquisition of CTRL-Labs in 2019, is based on a series of electromyographic (EMG) sensors that detect electrical signals that control the muscles in your hands. When the Meta researchers were first unveiled a year ago, they said they were also looking at some haptic technologies that would also help the user feel input.
A smaller, more refined version of the neural input technology could be valuable, as the future wearer of AR glasses won’t have to use cumbersome controllers on a daily basis, nor will they have to rely entirely on optical hand tracking, which criticizes no haptic feedback.
Late last year, Italian eyewear company Ray-Ban co-released Stories, the first in a series of smarter glasses that Meta hopes will pave the way for the future of smart and stylish AR devices. Ray-Ban Stories, sort of a cross between Bose Frames and the first three generations of Snap’s Spectacles (re: not AR or smartglasses), is one of the few products on display in the recently opened Meta stores, which include demo areas for MetaQuest 2 and Portal.
As Zuckerberg said, the companies are still planning new smartglasses, so a close-knit hardware partner with EssilorLuxottica’s cachet is definitely worth impressing with future visions.
Meanwhile, Meta says it will release four new VR headsets by 2024, which should give us plenty of XR devices to look forward to for years to come.