Meta, Apple and Google cheer FCC ruling that could pave the way for new AR and VR applications

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has made a significant decision to open up a band of spectrum that could have far-reaching implications for the development of augmented and virtual reality wearables and other technologies. The FCC voted unanimously to open the 6 GHz band to a new class of “very low power devices,” with a focus on wearable technology.

This decision is expected to foster an ecosystem of innovative applications, including augmented and virtual reality, which can enhance learning, improve healthcare services, and provide new entertainment experiences. Companies like Meta (formerly Facebook), which is working on its smart glasses, see this as a pivotal development. It means that future iterations of such devices could offer increased functionality even when users are outside their homes and away from strong Wi-Fi connections.

Meta, in particular, hailed the FCC’s move as a forward-looking partnership between government regulators and industry, highlighting the potential for growth in the augmented and virtual reality space.

Google’s hardware group, Pixel, also praised the decision, emphasizing its importance for high-speed peer-to-peer WiFi communication, which is valuable for multiplayer games and photo-sharing apps. Apple expressed similar sentiments, calling the FCC vote a positive step forward.

The groundwork for this decision was laid when the FCC sought comments on opening up the 6 GHz band for unlicensed use in 2020. Key players in the tech industry, including Apple, Broadcom, Meta (Facebook), and Google, advocated for this change. They argued that allowing a class of very low power (VLP) devices, which includes augmented and virtual reality tools, to access the 6 GHz band would make these technologies more mobile and capable of functioning without wired connections, especially outside the home.

The potential applications of this development are vast, from enhancing AR and VR experiences to aiding in critical use cases, such as medical training or helping visually impaired individuals. It also has implications for outdoor activities like jogging or hiking and for creating immersive fan experiences at sporting events. In summary, the FCC’s decision to open the 6 GHz band has the potential to significantly influence the future of wearable technology and augmented and virtual reality.