Facebook unveils AR glasses that offer immersive audio experiences

Social media company, Facebook, has reportedly unveiled a set of AR (augmented reality) glasses. This set of AR glasses offer ‘perceptual superpowers’ to users by amplifying the surrounding sounds and dimming the background noise.

One of the prototype devices is equipped with microphones and headphones to capture the sounds and track the users’ head & eye movements to analyze what they want to hear. Through this, the headset will enhance these sounds and lower the ambient noise level. The cutting-edge technology is designed to have considerable usage advantages in noisy environments such as restaurants.

According to Lisa Brown Jaloza, Facebook’s technology communication manager, a loud restaurant can pose several potential health threats to employees. Prolonged exposure to high noise levels of more than 85 decibels can lead to hearing loss. Due to these adverse impacts, the new AR device is expected to gain widespread application in such settings.

Another device creates an ‘audio presence’ effect, which helps in catching distant sound. Facebook was able to produce this effect by placing microphones around a meeting room. Jaloza wore a pair of headphones and a modified Oculus Rift headset in a separate room. The microphones were able to send the voices of people in this meeting room to different points in the headphones worn by Jaloza, while she viewed every speaker through the lenses. This technology is expected to offer an immersive experience to the users without having to be physically present at the spot.

However, the prototype device requires 32 separate microphones to record & collect room sounds and has some security risks related to concerns about the company using the recordings to deliver targeted ads. The social media company though, has revealed that the device encrypts data prior to handling it to the researchers. It also separates the users’ identity from the information.

Despite these potential drawbacks, the AR glasses are anticipated to be largely beneficial for curbing hearing problems in loud or noisy environments.

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