Facebook introduces new Facebook Reality Labs, and announces its Facebook Connect AR/VR conference

In Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality News

August 26, 2020 – Facebook has today announced that it is introducing a new name for its AR/VR team — Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) — to encompass the work being done at the company as it aims to build the next computing platform to help people feel more present with each other, even while apart. Additionally, Facebook has also shared the date for its annual conference, Facebook Connect (formerly Oculus Connect), which will be held virtually on September 16 and is free for everyone to attend. 

Previously, FRL was the name given to the company’s research division, which had historically been known as Oculus Research. Facebook’s work in augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) spans a number of technologies, including: Oculus, Facebook’s VR hardware platform; Portal, the company’s smart display and video chat platform; and Spark AR, which powers AR experiences for Facebook’s apps and devices.

Much like Facebook’s recent corporate rebranding, the emphasis of today’s announcement is on clarity, according to the company, and to help visually identify FRL as a part of Facebook while looking toward the future of the next computing platform that puts people at the center.

Facebook stated its mission is: “To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together, and FRL’s mission is to build tools that help people feel connected, anytime, anywhere”, adding “Rather than distracting us and taking us away from the people around us, tomorrow’s AR and VR devices will melt away, letting us connect and be truly present with the people and moments that matter most.”

The company also noted that FRL is building its entire technology stack, including hardware and software, with privacy baked into the design process, and that the company’s approach to privacy will continue to evolve as the technology develops.

Together, AR and VR will change how we work, interact, and play, with novel use cases we haven’t even begun to imagine. Many of the technologies needed to deliver on the promise of AR glasses don’t exist yet — and our team is hard at work to make them a reality. That’s why we’ve decided to expand the FRL brand beyond research to be inclusive of all the teams that are building, iterating, and shipping today’s hardware and software on the road to the next computing platform. 

This is the seventh year that Facebook will be hosting its annual AR/VR conference, and over the years, Connect has grown to include much more than Oculus, with research updates and product news from Spark AR to Portal from Facebook. Moving forward, the annual AR/VR event will be called Facebook Connect to better reflect its broader scope, 

At Facebook Connect this year, attendees will be able to hear more on the company’s vision for Facebook Reality Labs, along with some of the latest innovations in AR and VR from the Facebook team and developer community, as well as join immersive developer sessions and listen to keynotes from Facebook leaders and industry visionaries. The keynotes and sessions will also be available for viewing on the FRL Facebook page.

Facebook noted that before today, it lacked a unified brand identity from which to tell the story of how it is working to build the future of VR and AR. With the Facebook Reality Labs name, the company is making clear where these technologies are coming from.

Image credit: Facebook

About the author

Sam Sprigg

Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he has been covering XR industry news for the past seven years.