We know that Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg is all about virtual reality — he talks about it every chance he gets. Now we know that Facebook is also plotting ways to get into the neighboring futuristic field: Augmented reality — tech that mixes the digital world with our own.
Facebook’s CEO dropped the term at the company’s developer conference on Thursday. It was a fleeting and very vague mention. But it was his first public mention of AR, tech that rivals Google and Microsoft are plowing rigorous resources and money into.
Onstage, Zuckerberg laid out the three pillars of Facebook’s (very unspecified) “ten-year roadmap”: Connectivity, artificial intelligence and virtual reality/augmented reality. On the third point, Zuckerberg noted the progress of Facebook’s two VR products — the Gear VR headset with Samsung and the Oculus Rift. Then he turned to AR.
“Over the next ten years, the form factor is just going to keep getting smaller and smaller,” he said. That will coincide with the development of AR tech, he continued. An example: Today, if we want to show Facebook photos to friends, we whip out our tiny phones. In the future, Zuckerberg said, you can simply unfurl a digital screen of unlimited size.
“When we get to this world, a lot of the things we think about today as physical objects, like a TV, will be $1 apps in an AR app store,” he said. “It’s going to take a long time. But that’s our vision.”
Behind Zuckerberg onstage was a big photo of a simple pair of glasses. Facebook’s very own Google Glass? Maybe, but not yet. It was more like a hint of the type of wearable devices that incorporate both VR and AR people in the industry pine for. That’s because AR, which has many more enterprise applications, is a far bigger potential business than VR.
A whole bunch of tech giants — Google, Microsoft, Qualcomm, maybe Amazon — are well aware of this. Rest assured Facebook won’t sit it out either.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.