Facebook and luxury eyewear brand Ray-Ban have announced a pair of smart glasses that come with two of cameras built-in, a microphone and speaker.
There’s been talk for some time now of a smart product being developed by these two companies. In July Mark Zuckerburg Facebook’s CEO confirmed as much. He revealed this at the company’s second quarter earnings call.
“Looking ahead here, the next product release will be the launch of our first smart glasses from Ray-Ban in partnership with EssilorLuxottica,” he said, before saying.
“I’m excited to get those into people’s hands and to continue to make progress on the journey toward full augmented reality glasses in the future.”
Zuckerburg did add that the glasses will be able to do some “pretty neat things” and that they will have an “iconic form factor”. But he didn’t really reveal much else. It is only now that the specs have been made official, that we know all the features.
Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses
The gear goes by the name Ray-Ban Stories. It was expected that the specs would be mostly about smart functionality and integration with social media. Health and fitness features were likely to be few or non-existent. And this turned out to be accurate.
In fact Ray-Ban Stories remind very much of Snapchat Spectacles which are on their third generation now. They remind nothing of the failed Google Glass product.
In terms of design, the Ray-Ban Facebook product looks very much like a regular pair of Wayferers. Which is what you ideally want. Compared them to the traditional thing and you’ll notice they weigh just five grams more and are only a few millimeters thicker.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
So its quite impressive that the duo has managed to conceal in their frame a pair of front-facing cameras for photo and picture taking. There’s a camera in each wing and they work together to take five megapixel images and videos (that last up to 30 seconds). A long tap (for high res photos – 2592 x 1944 pixel) or short tap (for low res photos) of the device’s only physical button triggers the functionality.
The photos and videos are sent via Bluetooth to a new Facebook View app. This is then used to port them over to social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat and more.
The inevitable questions are going to arise around privacy. To alleviate these concerns there’s an LED buil on the camera. It shines in bright white notifying people nearby when you are taking pics or recording.
Whether people actually notice the tiny light is another question. Not to mention that it’s probably easy to obscure the light for those who choose to do so. Like with other similar products, in the end it will be down to users to use the tech appropriately and respectfully.
Another privacy tool is a power switch to turn off all the smart functionality. Which, along with the cameras, includes “three-microphone” audio array and open-ear speakers. The microphones can be used to issue hands-free voice assistant commands, as well as to make calls and send messages. The speaker can be used to listen to podcasts and music from a connected smartphone.
What’s interesting is that the product is entirely branded with the Ray-Ban moniker and not Facebook’s. But the social giant has been involved in its making from the start.
Battery life sounds decent enough. The glasses can keep going for three days if you actively used them for six hours each day. That’s with a fully charged case.
Ray-Ban stories can be purchased now for $299. There are 20 design variations to choose from. It’s important to note that none of these are waterproof so make sure that you keep them out of the rain.
Snapchat Spectacles have been struggling with sales even though they’ve been around for a few years now. Time will tell if the Ray-Ban Facebook collaboration has more luck.
This is only the start
It is no secret Facebook has big plans when it comes to hardware. The social media giant is planning to introduce its first smartwatch in 2022. That device will also pack two cameras. One of these will be for video calls, while the more high-res one will be for capturing quality photo and videos. Reportedly, the watch will also have social media integration and some fitness abilities.
Facebook has made no secret about its ambition to develop brain-reading wearables. The company already knows so much about us, do we really want it to read our minds? Perhaps not.
Zuckerberg has said in the past AR is the destination of Facebook’s journey. But it is clear developments will not stop there. Brain-reading wearables will ultimately become commonplace. Let’s hope the only use for this is for people to control devices with their mind.
Like this article? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and never miss out!