General Intelligence

Facebook’s Project Aria Is Google Maps — For Your Entire Life

A new augmented reality headset will create a map of everything you see

Dave Gershgorn
OneZero
Published in
4 min readSep 18, 2020

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Image: Facebook

OneZero’s General Intelligence is a roundup of the most important artificial intelligence and facial recognition news of the week.

Google Street View emerged from a seemingly insane vision: Put cameras on cars, and drive them around the entire world to capture every street on the planet.

Over time, that data became more and more valuable. The footage from those cars automatically updates Google Maps with new business signs and changes street names. Data from the car’s trip can be used to correct satellite imagery.

Now, Facebook has an even grander ambition. On Wednesday, the company announced a plan to map the entire world, beyond street view. The company is launching a set of glasses that contains cameras, microphones, and other sensors to build a constantly updating map of the world in an effort called Project Aria. That map will include the inside of buildings and homes and all the objects inside of them. It’s Google Street View, but for your entire life.

Facebook can already see almost every aspect of how the world uses the internet, through its ad tracking of users and nonusers on and off its site. Project Aria would add a physical dimension to Facebook’s omnipotent gaze.

About a hundred Facebook employees and contractors will use the glasses to record as much as they can of their immediate surroundings, according to Facebook’s website.

This effort will give Facebook an enormous dataset to build future augmented reality and A.I. products. The data could be used for everything from building an AR application to telling you where you left your keys, to a more personalized virtual assistant, according to Facebook employees who presented the project.

If the project goes according to plan, the final result would be a live, 3D map of the world, constantly updated and refreshed by people walking around with AR headsets. Facebook says that maps of public places would be publicly viewable, while the maps of users’ homes and belongings would be private.

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Dave Gershgorn
OneZero

Senior Writer at OneZero covering surveillance, facial recognition, DIY tech, and artificial intelligence. Previously: Qz, PopSci, and NYTimes.