Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg thinks smart glasses could help combat climate change

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Monday that by 2030, people could use advanced smart glasses to “teleport” to locations like other people’s homes, and speak to them as if they’re physically present, allowing in-person meetings to be replaced by a headset-based digital experience.

One upshot of this vision of the future could be a reduction in travel for business or pleasure, which could help ameliorate the effects of climate change, Zuckerberg said in an interview with The Information.

Obviously, there are going to keep on being cars and planes and all that. But the more that we can teleport around, not only are we personally eliminating commutes and stuff that’s kind of a drag for us individually, but I think that’s better for society and for the planet overall, too,” Zuckerberg said.

Most big technology firms, including Apple, Microsoft, and Google, are working on augmented reality technology, which overlays computer-generated graphics on images of the real world. They’re all competing to shape the next major computer interface after the smartphone and touchscreen.

Zuckerberg’s remarks are notable because they represent a cohesive vision from an industry leader of what augmented reality technology can do for consumers, not just other businesses, and he identifies software that could be the hook to get people to buy and subsequently wear advanced computers on their face: virtual in-person communication.

The ultimate vision years down the road, as Zuckerberg said on Monday, is a pair of normal-looking computer-powered glasses that can display content alongside the real world through transparent displays.

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“There are going to be all these awesome use cases that come from this….rather than calling someone or having a video chat, you just kind of snap your fingers and teleport, and you’re sitting there and they’re on their couch and it feels like you’re there together,” Zuckerberg said.

Zuckerberg says one advantage to AR-powered “teleportation” is that it could reduce travel or commute time. Ultimately, AR could allow workers to live where they want, perhaps a less expensive region, and “basically teleport to work,” Zuckerberg said.

“We talked a little bit about climate change before just being so important,” Zuckerberg said. “People are just going to want to maybe travel a little less in the future and do it more efficiently, and be able to go places without having to take the travel or commute time.”

Zuckerberg’s interview comes as the social media company plans to release a pair of smart glasses in partnership with Ray-Ban later this year, although he said they wouldn’t be “full AR,” which means they won’t display advanced virtual objects. Facebook plans to release more advanced AR glasses as technology gets better.

Facebook also develops virtual reality headsets which lack transparent displays through Oculus, which it purchased in 2014 for $2 billion. It currently sells the Oculus 2, a $300 virtual reality headset. Zuckerberg said he believes that software makers will start making software in virtual reality before transitioning to augmented reality, and calls the two technologies “two sides of the same coin.”



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