Meta’s First AR Glasses Will Cost a Fortune – Tech Live Trends

The production of Meta’s first AR glasses will be very costly, mainly because of the state-of-the-art lenses used and costly domestic manufacturing, thus resulting in a higher price point.

Meta’s first real Augmented Reality (AR) glasses are set to be publicly unveiled in 2024. The glasses are codenamed Orion and are slated for launch in 2024. According to a recent article by The Information, Meta is planning to produce 1,000 units of the device and they will exclusively be used for internal development and demonstration purposes.

Meta Eyeing AR Future
Meta Eyeing AR Future

Meta was initially planning to produce 50,000 units of the AR glasses and these were to be sold to the general public before the company changed course. Meta is now targeting 50,000 units for the second generation of the glasses which have been codenamed Artemis and which are set to launch in 2027.

Although Artemis is hitting the market in 2027, it will be built using older, cheaper, and proven technology due to cost considerations. The display for the Artemis glasses will reportedly be based on the cheaper LCoS technology rather than Plessey’s MicroLEDs. The lenses will consist of glass rather than silicon carbide which will result in increased brightness as well as a narrower field of view of just 50 degrees instead of 70 degrees.

Based on the prevailing plans, the third-generation of the Augmented Reality glasses have been codenamed Odyssey and will also use glass, according to The Information report.

The First AR Glasses Will Be Made in the U.S

The Information article shared details of Orion’s manufacturing, reporting that these first AR glasses will be made in the U.S. rather than Asia as is customary for most U.S. tech companies that take advantage of the cheap labor and low cost of production in the region. The glasses will be manufactured in the U.S. because the silicon carbide used in them is made by a U.S. company that offers better optical properties than glass is currently restricted from being exported to China.

Concurrently, the wristband and the computing puck accessories for the AR glasses will be manufactured in China and Taiwan.

Silicon carbide is a synthetic compound and is very costly to make. It is also used in space telescopes, radars, and electric vehicles as well as in the sensors used in the US military.

The Information reported that Meta’s AR glasses will be assembled at a former Hewlett-Packard printer factory situated close to the Oregon-Washington State border. There are advantages to manufacturing the headset in the U.S. The report states that the factory is located near the Meta Reality Labs campus situated in Redmond.

AR Hardware is a Risky Bet for Meta

Meta is currently pouring more than $10 billion into developing the metaverse. Almost half of this investment is being channeled into the development of its Augmented Reality product even though a product is yet to be unveiled.

This is a very costly proposition for Meta. It is also risky because, unlike virtual reality headsets, augmented reality technology is yet to gain traction and it isn’t clear whether mainstream users will actually embrace AR glasses. Even in the event that AR glasses take off, it would take at least a decade for Meta to profit from its XR bets.

Meta’s Augmented Reality play is also facing other obstacles such as the development of its own AR chips as well as an AR operating system, key technological building blocks that are crucial to ensuring the company’s competitiveness as it takes on the likes of Apple which is already better-positioned to tackle the augmented reality market niche.

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