A year later, we now know more about Facebook's Project Aria AR glasses

You still can't buy them, though.

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Dana Wollman
August 25, 2021 11:01 PM
In this article: project aria, news, gear, ar, facebook
A promo image for the Facebook Project Aria smartglasses, showing a man wearing them outside from his right profile and holding a smartphone.

To say that Facebook's Project Aria AR glasses were never meant for consumers would be an understatement. Facebook does not even consider them a prototype. And they are not, and may never be, available for purchase. Rather, Facebook has always described them as a way for its employees to study and test augmented reality tech. 

Though Facebook's announcement at the time made clear the company's intentions, it was light on details about how the glasses would actually work. Now, nearly a year after the initial launch, a series of regulatory documents are giving us a belated first peek inside. In a user manual first reported by Protocol, we learn that this specific device goes by the codename Gemini EVT, with EVT being an abbreviation for "engineering valuation test." 

As you might expect, given the stated purpose of the device, there is no visual AR component. Meaning, there's no built-in display for viewing 3D image overlays. Again, the glasses in their early form really do exist just for this small team of engineers to collect data.

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Not that you can buy one but if you could, the glasses would also support prescription lenses, the manual reveals.

Additionally, the manual indicates there's a proximity sensor on the inner temple, along with four cameras that can capture both video and still photos. Interestingly, Facebook used the same camera sensors here that it did on the Oculus Quest 2 headset, our review of which we published the same day in September last year that Facebook announced Project Aria. Given the timing, it may just be those sensors were the most readily available to Facebook.

Also inside is a Qualcomm chipset, with a modified version of Android powering the software experience. Charging happens via a USB cable, which attached magnetically to the glasses.

The user experience seems simple, as far as we can tell. There are shutter and power buttons, plus a mute switch that "toggles privacy mode on/off." When a recording is in progress, a series of LEDs help passerby understand that the camera is on. Meanwhile, there's a companion iOS app called Ariane that handles the basics: device setup, scanning for WiFi networks, showing the battery status and uploading what data the sensors have collected. It's unclear, however, if there is also an Android version of the app that exists, or is in the works. Again, not that you'd be able to download it either way.

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A year later, we now know more about Facebook's Project Aria AR glasses