The initiative known as Project Aria has been the focus of curiosity around Facebook's augmented reality plans ever since Mark Zuckerberg revealed the device around this time last year.
Now more details about the device have emerged to flesh out more about how it works.
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It's important to note here that Project Aria has nothing to do (according to a Facebook spokesperson) with the device Facebook has coming out later this year in partnership with Ray-Ban. Although details are scarce on the Ray-Ban wearable, all signs point to the device as more of a non-visual notification device, rather than an augmented reality product.
As for Project Aria, a number of details are outlined in a new FCC document breaking down the device's composition.
There aren't many surprises in the document, other than the code name: Gemini. If you're a longtime Facebook observer, the name immediately jumps off the page. Gemini is the same name as the crypto exchange company founded by the Winklevoss twins, the two men who famously accused Zuckerberg of stealing the idea of Facebook from them and subsequently won a $65 million settlement over the dispute.
It's not clear if Gemini will indeed be the name of the Facebook product if it is ever commercialized, but it's nevertheless an odd choice given the history of Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins and the current booming popularity of their Gemini crypto exchange. Similarly, a few eyebrows were raised when Zuckerberg's crypto project was announced in 2019 as Libra, another zodiac sign name (like Gemini), which is unlike any branding Facebook had ever presented before.
Of course, these may just be a series of coincidences, but given the Facebook founder's history with the Winklevoss twins, one would assume he'd want to stay away from any comparisons to his highest-profile adversaries ever in the tech space. So either these are simply a couple of unfortunate happenstances, or someone at Facebook may be trolling the Winklevoss twins.
On the other hand, if we were to take a more optimistic view, this could be seen as a hint at a possible upcoming collaboration—forever burying the hatchet—between Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins. But... that seems unlikely. So, until we have more clarity from Facebook, we'll let you take the information we've presented at face value and make your own determinations.
Either way, as we've detailed before, crypto and augmented reality will be very closely tied together in the coming months and years, so these branding issues are not trivial. And while the name of Zuckerberg's crypto project has been wisely changed from Libra to Diem, it's still a bit troubling to think that Facebook might at some point launch one of its most ambitious products ever into the mainstream under the name Gemini.
As for Project Aria (aka Gemini), despite the FCC filing, which was first surfaced by Politico's tech site Protocol (both of which were acquired today by German publisher Axel Springer), there's no telling when or if the device will ever be sold as a real product.
Nevertheless, the device will almost certainly go a long way toward helping Facebook determine exactly how it can make AR smartglasses a viable part of its grand plan to productize "the metaverse."
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