A Facebook executive confirmed that the social media giant could release facial recognition glasses this year in partnership with Luxottica, the maker of Ray-Ban, Buzzfeed reported on Thursday (Feb. 25).
Andrew Bosworth, vice president of augmented and virtual reality at Facebook, told employees that the firm is still weighing the legal implications and individual state laws. Facebook is planning to launch smart glasses this year with or without facial recognition built in.
“Face recognition … might be the thorniest issue, where the benefits are so clear, and the risks are so clear, and we don’t know where to balance those things,” Bosworth told employees.
The Silicon Valley tech giant started working on smart glasses in 2020, with a planned rollout this year. The product is being developed in partnership with Luxottica Group, the maker of Ray-Ban.
“Face recognition is a hugely controversial topic and for good reason and I was speaking about how we are going to have to have a very public discussion about the pros and cons,” Bosworth later said on Twitter, per Buzzfeed.
Facebook and Luxottica officially announced their partnership in September 2020, saying the first glasses will be Ray-Bans and will incorporate “innovative technology and fashion-forward style – to create smart glasses that consumers will truly love wearing.”
The company had been in talks with Ray-Ban since 2019 and had been working on augmented reality glasses for several years. At the time the product was code-named Orion, and the product was being designed to become a replacement for smartphones. The company was also reportedly working on a ring, code-named Agios, that be an add-on to the glasses.
Facial recognition technology has faced legal challenges on several fronts, and Facebook has been tangled up in many, including the Cambridge Analytica fiasco. Facebook agreed to pay $650 million to settle an Illinois lawsuit that alleged it illegally gathered biometric information on users without their permission.