On Thursday, Facebook has launched its first-ever smart glasses, partnering with Ray-Ban, and has named them ‘Ray-Ban Stories’. These glasses are a step toward Facebook’s aim of launching true augmented-reality spectacles. Ray-Ban Stories by Facebook are smart glasses that allow users to click pictures, listen to the music of their choice, record videos, as well as receive calls and talk without using their phones. The true partner of the tech giant that is Facebook for launching these smart glasses is EssilorLuxottica, Ray-Ban’s parent firm and a European eyewear conglomerate. Ray-Ban Stories will be followed by more advanced products through this partnership. Facebook has set the price for these glasses to start at $299.
“Today, we’re excited to launch Ray-Ban Stories: smart glasses that give you a new way to capture photos and video, share your adventures and listen to music or take phone calls — so you can stay present with friends, family, and the world around you,” Facebook posted on social media. Ray-Ban Stories has several features that include dual integrated 5MP cameras that come in handy to capture high-resolution photos and record 30-second videos as well. The users of Ray-Ban Stories can either manage through the physical capture button or Facebook Assistant voice commands to use them hands-free. Ray-Ban Stories will soon be available in 20 style combinations and can be bought online and some retail stores in the US, Canada, Italy, Australia, UK, and Ireland.
There are LED lights in the glasses that light up when the user is taking a photo or video, letting other people around know. Along with that, the smart glasses are streamlined with built-in open-ear speakers, and most importantly the three-microphone audio array that offers voice rich in quality and excellent sound transmission for calls, audios, and videos. The Ray-Ban Stories, because of their partnership, have the Facebook View app, where they can view, import, and share anything to not just Facebook’s apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, but also some of its rivals like Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok. They can also save content to their phone’s camera roll and edit and share from there. According to Facebook, Ray-Ban Stories are available for buying in 20 combinations.
Namely— Wayfarer, Wayfarer Large, Round, and Meteor; plus five colors with a range of lenses including clear, sun, transition, and prescription. Apart from all that, the beamforming technology and a background noise suppression algorithm of the smart glasses have been promised by Facebook to give an enhanced calling experience just like any dedicated headphones. Facebook, whose total revenue for last year was around $86 billion which mostly comes from advertising, has taken a bold step to invest so much in virtual and augmented reality, even developing hardware such as its Oculus VR headsets and working on wristbands technologies to support augmented reality glasses. Facebook’s chief scientist, in an interview, told us that their company is around 5-10 years away from launching “true” AR glasses to the market, which would superimpose virtual objects onto the wearer’s view of the real world.
Other major tech giants like Microsoft Corp, Snapchat, Amazon, Alphabet Inc’s Google, and Apple have earlier tried to make different smart glasses products, but just like Google Glass, they were a flop in the market due to high pricing and some design-related issues. Snapchat launched its smart spectacles in 2016 and has made AR glasses this year, only offering them to AR creators. The CEO of Snapchat earlier said that it would take them a decade to bring AR smart glasses widely to consumers. Facebook is widely defamed in guaranteeing its user data privacy, so the company promised that it would not even touch the media used by the Ray-Ban Stories users without their permission. Also, some reports say that it will not even use the content of the pictures and other media captured and saved using these glasses for using them in personalized ads.
Mark Zuckerberg, their CEO, earlier revealed that they have set up a team to build the metaverse, a shared virtual environment which according to him will prove to be the future of the mobile internet. Although the Ray-Ban Stories don’t look as sophisticated as Facebook’s Oculus, they seem to inspire by Snap’s Spectacles by Snapchat. The first set of glasses will be in the iconic Wayfarer design which has long been affiliated with the iconic eyewear brand. There are two other designs available though: round and meteor. You might see them and think they are pretty ordinary, but actually, the Ray-Ban Stories are equipped with two 5MP cameras at the corners with an LED light near them which turns on so other people can know if you’re recording them or taking their photo.
Facebook’s smart glasses offer unlimited recording and clicking pictures, just like Snap’s Spectacles. As of now, users are offered to record videos for up to 30 seconds and take photos by either pressing the capture button or going hands-free with Facebook Assistant voice commands. But the users will have to pair the Ray-Ban Stories with the Facebook View app, which will ensure the Facebook Assistant so that you give orders to record a video or any other task you want. The glasses pair with both Android and iOS devices. The Facebook Assistant only communicates in English for now. The smart glasses also contain a button to turn off completely. The Ray-Ban Stories consists of an excellent charging case that can be charged by any USB cable. Facebook says that its smart glasses can record and sync up to 50 videos or up to 200 photos per full charge.
The duration of its battery is up to 6 hours in case of using moderately and up to 3 hours if using continuous audio streaming and Facebook Assistant turned on. Ray-Ban Stories do not support Augmented Reality though, which proved to be quite unsuccessful for Google Glasses in the past. AR will let these glasses display digital content on the optics, so you can understand why it is a lot more complicated. Snapchat has also released AR glasses in 2021, but only the AR developers can use them for now. According to the glimpse that Snapchat gave us, their AR glasses by Snapchat will allow users to experience the company’s AR filters in their real-life surroundings, as well as play AR games. While Facebook is aimed at creating AR glasses for a long time, it also accepts the challenges facing this dream.
Dr. Nikhil Balram, CEO of Israeli-AR-based firm Eyeway and former head of Google display, in an interview with indianexpress.com, had stated that AR hardware has a lot of limitations. He told us that users want a truly natural experience when they use AR glasses, making the real-world visible parallelly with the digital content. These ‘true’ AR glasses are a long time away from us, he said. The RAY-Ban Stories also raise some concerns as their easy usage can hamper the privacy of other people. Like some users might want to record confidential meetings or might record other people without consent and then harass people with these footages or commit other such crimes. There is definitely room for misuse here. But Facebook already knew that people’s privacy will be posed a big concern, so the company established a microsite designed just to answer queries about privacy and its Ray-Ban Stories.