Facebook has finally announced its long-rumoured ‘smart glasses,’ called Ray Ban Stories, in partnership with Ray-Ban, which feature two front-facing cameras to quickly capture pictures and video.
The glasses, marketed as Ray-Ban Stories, come in 20 variations including Ray-Ban’s Wayfarer design, a round design, and its Meteor design. They are not waterproof so should not be taken out in the rain.
Users operate the glasses with a little button on their temples that will capture 30 seconds of video with a short press, and a 2592 x 1944 pixel photo with a longer press. Alternatively, users can say “Hey Facebook” and give voice commands to the glasses to take a photo or video.
When a photo or video is captured, it goes to a new app called Facebook View that can be used to share it on Facebook and Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram – as well as other apps like Twitter, TikTok, and Snapchat.
Built into the glasses are three microphones and Bluetooth connectivity, so users can connect to audio from their phone, make calls and send messages. There is an integrated touchpad on the side of the glasses allowing users to slide their fingers up or down to control the volume.
Facebook says the glasses will last six hours per day for three days with a fully-charged case.
Facebook and Ray-Ban told The Independent, however, that it is offering a more complete experience with capture, audio technology, sharing and a smart assistant that will set it apart from competitors.
The other major concern users might have over the Ray-Ban Stories is Facebook’s history of data privacy. The company has been repeatedly criticized over its failure to protect users’ data, and the amount of information that it collects as people use its services.
Moreover, smart glasses as a technology have also been infamous for their inherent risk to privacy. Ray-Ban Stories collects data about battery status, and the email address and password of the users’ Facebook account, and additional data like the number of images captured or how long a user spends taking videos can also be provided to Facebook.
Pre-empting this response, Facebook says that it designed the glasses with “privacy in mind” and claims it will not use this data to target users with ads. One of these privacy-focused design choices is a small LED light hardwired to the camera (like the green light on Apple’s Mac computers) that shines white when the camera is taking a photo.
However, it doesn’t seem difficult to obscure the light by means of a small piece of tape or black putty – and although Facebook says tampering with the camera violates the glasses’ terms of service, there is no way for the company to detect when that is happening.
Instead, Facebook says it recognizes that “like any new technology that’s entered the market, there will unfortunately be instances where people will look to use the glasses inappropriately”, but has “published a set of tips that advise people on how to use the glasses safely and respectfully to protect themselves and others around them”.
Ray-Ban Stories is priced at £299 and equivalent prices in the United States, Italy, Australia, and Canada.