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Richard Newcombe - Director, Research Science Facebook Reality Labs Research

Introducing
Project Aria

INTRODUCING PROJECT ARIA

With Project Aria, we are building towards a future where our devices disappear into the flow of everyday life, enhance the world around us as we go, and render our devices more human in design and interactivity.

Project Aria is a research device that is worn like regular glasses and will help us build the software — including a live map of 3D spaces — and hardware necessary for future AR devices. Sensors on the Project Aria research device will capture the wearer’s video and audio, as well as their eye tracking and location information. The glasses’ on-device computing power will then be used to encrypt and store information that, when uploaded to separate, designated back-end storage space, will help our researchers figure out how AR can work in the real world.

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Image of LiveMaps

LIVEMAPS: PROJECT ARIA APPLIED

Our future AR devices must be more perceptive in order to be more genuinely useful to us. In order for devices to understand where they are in relation to people and other objects, and how to make sense of any given situation, they need a virtual 3D map of the things around you. But it’s far too power-intensive to scan and reconstruct a space in real time from scratch, so AR glasses will need to tap into an existing 3D map we call LiveMaps.

LiveMaps uses computer vision to construct a virtual representation of the parts of the world that are relevant to you. With these 3D maps, our future devices will be able to efficiently see, analyze, and understand the world around them and better serve those who use them. These devices will keep track of changes, like new street names, and update them in real-time. The Project Aria device is testing out how this can work in practice.

PROJECT ARIA GLASSES

The goal of Project Aria is learning in a safe and secure environment. Project Aria glasses will initially be made available to a limited group of Facebook employees and contractors that will be trained on when and where to use the device. We’ll be asking people of diverse backgrounds to participate in the program to create an accurate and varied view of the world.

Project Aria glasses are not a consumer product, nor are they an AR glasses prototype. The glasses do not include a display and research participants cannot directly view video or listen to audio captured by the device, but participants can view low-resolution thumbnails via a companion app installed on their phone for the purpose of deleting segments of data. We’ll use encryption to store the data on the Aria device and a secure ingestion system to upload data from the research devices to Facebook’s separate, designated back-end storage space.

A video showcasing Project Aria Glasses
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RESEARCH PARTNERSHIPS

Carnegie Mellon University

To better understand how this technology can benefit people with varying physical abilities, we’re starting a pilot program with Carnegie Mellon University’s Cognitive Assistance Laboratory to build 3D maps of museums and airports that will have multiple applications, including helping people with visual impairments better navigate their surroundings.

AR technology can enhance how people learn, work, play, and explore. From providing intuitive navigation support and, enabling people to share space with a lifelike avatar of a sister or a parent who lives in another country, to enhancing worker training, people from all walks of life could use AR in different and significant ways. This endeavor is ambitious, so we’re looking to partners from all over the world to help us learn through application.

OUR COMMITMENT

We are committed to establishing best practices, transparently uncovering roadblocks, ensuring people have visibility into what information is being captured, and having processes to protect the information that is recorded. Participants will only record in either Facebook offices (once they reopen), wearers’ private homes (with consent from all members of the household), or public spaces, and won’t record in private venues without written consent from such places. Before any information gathered in a public place is made available to our researchers, it will be automatically scrubbed to blur faces and vehicle license plates.

AR devices and experiences will eventually enable deep connections between people and the things that matter most to them, providing more utility and information while decreasing the time spent looking down at various devices. Our approach to building an AR ecosystem will always put people before opportunity. It’s why we’ve created four key principles for responsible innovation that will keep us committed and guide us through uncharted landscapes. Designing technology that’s transparent, meaningful, considerate, and above all, human.

Man wearing Project Aria glasses

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

We want individuals who encounter a Project Aria participant in public to understand that the participant is collecting data, so to start, research participants will wear distinct clothing that identifies them as a member of this research project, including a lanyard with a badge directing anyone who is interested to a dedicated website with more information. When the device is collecting data, it’ll display a white light to let people know it’s recording. We’ll continue to evaluate our policies and the indicators we provide to help make sure we’re respecting people’s privacy and being transparent about what Project Aria is and what the research device does.

Data gathered in public places will be scrubbed to blur faces and vehicle license plates. We’re also instructing all Project Aria research participants to comply with any requests from people in the near vicinity that they stop recording and/or delete relevant data. Participants can stop recording data at any time with the push of a button, and they can identify and delete recorded data segments, without viewing the raw data, by selecting the timestamp on a companion app installed on their smartphones. Finally, all research participants will first undergo training to learn where and when they should collect data and where it is not appropriate to record, such as in restrooms, prayer rooms, locker rooms, and in sensitive meetings and other private situations.

Recorded data is temporarily stored on the Project Aria device and periodically uploaded to Facebook’s servers, where it is kept in quarantine for 72 hours before being transferred to separate back-end storage. We take extra measures to help keep the data we collect secure. The data on the device is encrypted and cannot be accessed by anyone. We also use a secure ingestion system to upload the data from the Project Aria device to separate, designated back-end storage systems.

The device does not use facial recognition identification technology, and we do not connect information about bystanders captured using the research device’s sensors to their Facebook accounts. In any case, the glasses do not display any information on the inside of the lens, and research participants cannot access the raw data captured by the device.

Any data gathered in a public place will be automatically scrubbed by our systems to blur faces and will not be used to inform the ads people see across Facebook products. Project Aria is a research project intended to help us understand what hardware and software are needed to build AR glasses. In the event any of this technology is integrated into a commercially-available device in the future, we will be up front about our plans related to ads.

As with any trained model, it gets better with enough of the right data. We are hoping to collect sufficient and high-enough quality egocentric data to help us understand the hardware and software needed to build real, working AR glasses.

No. Project Aria devices will not initially capture any data in Europe. To start, data capture will be limited to about one hundred Facebook employees and contractors, primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle.

UPDATE on June 24, 2021: Starting in 2021, some employees and contractors based in the UK, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany and Czech Republic will capture data in their own homes with agreement from all members of the household. Facebook employees and contractors have also begun to capture data in other locations across the U.S.

UPDATE on August 25, 2021: This year, some Facebook contractors began collecting data in Facebook's Singapore office and inside their own homes with agreement from all household members. Some Facebook employees and contractors will also capture data in a handful of public landmarks in Singapore starting in September.

In this research phase, all of the data we collect is stored on separate back-end servers. We have controls in place to help ensure that data is only accessed by authorized researchers who require access to fulfill necessary responsibilities. We’re committed to keeping this information secure.

The Project Aria glasses are not a consumer product nor are they a prototype, and they will not be for sale. They won’t display any information on the inside of the lens, and research participants cannot view or listen to the raw data captured by the device. As a research device, the research glasses are meant to help us understand the hardware and software needed to build AR Glasses.