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Facebook explores smart glasses you can control from a glove

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Facebook is expected to release its first smart glasses product later this year, but the company also has an eye on your wrist for creating a proper augmented reality (AR) experience – and it’s one that doesn’t involve an iPhone.

Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google all have widely available hardware, but Facebook’s Portal didn’t hit its stride until the pandemic, unlike existing hits such as Amazon’s Echo smart speakers, Microsoft’s Surface laptops, Google’s Pixel phones, and the iPhone.

Facebook does have Oculus virtual reality headsets, though – and now the social networking company is exploring the idea of glasses synced-up with a wrist-borne device.

SEE: Virtual hiring tips for job seekers and recruiters (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

According to Facebook, you’d be less distracted than smartphone users by this future technology, which exploits the company’s advances in artificial intelligence (AI) fields such as computer vision and natural language processing.  

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“Imagine a world where a lightweight, stylish pair of glasses could replace your need for a computer or smartphone,” the company says in a new blogpost.

“You’d have the ability to feel physically present with friends and family – no matter where in the world they happened to be – and contextually-aware AI to help you navigate the world around you, as well as rich 3D virtual information within arm’s reach.

“Best of all, they’d let you look up and stay present in the world around you rather than pulling your attention away to the periphery in the palm of your hand. This is a device that wouldn’t force you to choose between the real world and the digital world.”

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Facebook wants to get even more personal with users than Apple Watch, billed by CEO Tim Cook as Apple’s most personal device ever. Instead of tracking heart rates and movement, Facebook wants a direct connection to the brain that displaces the mouse, trackpad or touchscreen. That kind of hardware would help to remove its dependence on Apple, which keeps introducing privacy changes that harm Facebook’s business model.

Facebook is aiming for “ultra-low-friction input” to create a shortcut from thought to action. In 2019, it bought CTRL-Labs – a US startup that uses electrical muscle signals to control a virtual hand – and is exploring sensors that connect to the brain and spinal cord as an input for AR glasses.

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“You might gesture with your hand, make voice commands, or select items from a menu by looking at them — actions enabled by hand-tracking cameras, a microphone array, and eye-tracking technology,” Facebook explains.  

“But ultimately, you’ll need a more natural, unobtrusive way of controlling your AR glasses. We’ve explored a range of neural input options, including electromyography (EMG). While several directions have potential, wrist-based EMG is the most promising. This approach uses electrical signals that travel from the spinal cord to the hand, in order to control the functions of a device based on signal decoding at the wrist.

“The signals through the wrist are so clear that EMG can detect finger motion of just a millimeter. That means input can be effortless – as effortless as clicking a virtual, always-available button – and ultimately it may even be possible to sense just the intention to move a finger.”

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SEE: How 3D printing is helping CERN scientists upgrade the world’s largest machine

Facebook also believes its hardware should be created as “soft, all-day wearable systems” that can extract data directly from the skin’s surface and use AI algorithms to infer intent from tiny finger movements.

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“AR glasses interaction will ultimately benefit from a novel integration of multiple new and/or improved technologies, including neural input, hand tracking and gesture recognition, voice recognition, computer vision, and several new input technologies like IMU finger-click and self-touch detection,” Facebook says.

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Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey

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Facebook has had its share of controversies this year. The company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents.

Facebook parent Meta has been named the Worst Company of the Year (2021) by Yahoo Finance respondents. According to the publication, an “open-ended” survey was published on Yahoo Finance on December 4 and 5, where 1,541 respondents participated. Facebook received 8 percent of the write-in vote, but respondents were seemingly mad about the Robinhood trading app as well. Electric truck startup Nikola, which was named last year’s worst company by the same publication also faced respondents ire.

Yahoo Finance notes, “Facebook has had its share of controversies this year.” Starting in January, Meta-owned WhatsApp got caught up in a huge controversy after the messaging app announced a new privacy policy (Terms of Service). WhatsApp said it would collect user information and share it with third-party apps for a better user experience. However, the app gave users no choice but later made modifications to the policy under pressure. Similarly, the company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents showing the company’s problematic practices. It was revealed that Meta-owned Instagram had a negative impact on teenage girls, but the company did almost nothing to rectify the problem.

Yahoo Finance even highlights, “At the same time, some critics, including conservatives, say Facebook over-policed the platform’s speech and stifled their voices.” Critics also blame Facebook and other social media platforms for not curbing hate speech that led to Capitol Building riots.

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However, around 30 percent of Yahoo Finance readers said that Facebook or Meta could redeem itself. One respondent suggested that the company could issue a formal apology for negligence and donate a sizable amount of its profits to a foundation to help reverse its harm.

On the other hand, respondents chose Microsoft as the Company of the Year (2021). The Satya Nadella-led company touched the trillion-mark this year and introduced notable upgrades. The most notable is the Windows 11 OS update that succeeds Windows 10.

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Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal

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In the latest legal tussle with Russia over controversial social media regulation laws, Facebook paid 17 million roubles (Rs 1.7 Crore) for failing to remove content deemed illegal by Moscow. With a threat of potential larger fines looming, Facebook parent company Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to face court next week over repeated violations of Russian legislation on content, Interfax News Agency reported. As per the latest updates, the social media giant could be fined a percentage of its annual revenue.

In October, Moscow sent state bailiffs to enforce the collection of 17 million roubles. Meanwhile, as per Interfax report citing a federal bailiffs’ database, on Sunday, there were more enforcement proceedings against the company. Apart from the popular social media app, Telegram has also paid 15 million roubles in fines for failing to comply with the Russian social media legislations that came into force in 2016.

Facebook pays $53k to Russia for refusing controversial social media laws

It is pertinent to mention that Facebook has locked horns with Moscow earlier in November, resulting in it paying 4 million roubles ($53,000) over its refusal to adhere to Russian data localisation laws, the Moscow Times reported. The Moscow court on November 25 had said that Facebook paid the fine levied in February, following which all proceedings against the US-based social media giant. The payment comes against the litigation filed against the company in 2018, alongside Twitter. The tech companies were also forced to pay an additional 3000 rubles ($40) for failing to comply with user data sharing rules as per the law. The Russian authorities have also previously blocked LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, for failing to abide by the laws.

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Russian social media laws

As per Moscow Times, under the Russian social media regulation laws, all foreign technology companies are required to store data related to Russian customers and users on servers located in Russia. Additionally, the Russian tech companies will also have to share encryption data with the federal authorities as well as record user calls, messages and civil society group conversation records. The apparatus is said to be a severe breach of privacy rights and unfettered back-door access to personal data that could be used to harass Kremlin critics.

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

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Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

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