Facebook unveils its first-gen sunglasses in the form of Ray-Ban Stories
It's official: even Ray-Bans are smart now. Sunglasses enthusiasts who may have hoped for this may yet have failed to anticipate that the household name would have partnered with Facebook in order to release these inaugural Stories spectacles, however.
The collaboration mainly means that photos and videos taken with the dual cameras tucked into the outer corners of each pair of Stories are sent to and managed with the Facebook View app for iOS or Android. The social-media giant has also baked the ability to start recording or snap an image using specific voice commands into the new smart glasses. Alternatively, a touch control is found on the right temple-piece of each pair.
The Stories have 3 mics apiece, as well as speakers that allow the user to make voice calls or use the glasses as an alternative to earbuds. Accordingly, they offer the attributes of potential rivals such as Razer's Anzus and the all-but-forgotten Snapchat glasses in one.
Therefore, some people who encounter a Ray-Ban Stories-wearer might react with anything from interest to objection at the potential creepy rating implied by the wearable's specs. However, Facebook asserts that they intend its new form of co-branded hardware to be used with privacy in mind. Their dual lenses are equipped with the eyewear equivalent of a physical privacy switch, and come with LED indicator rings that apparently inexorably glow white while the cameras are active.
However, it should be noted that the cameras involved have a resolution of just 5MP in any case, rated for video at a resolution of up to 1184x1184 at 30fps, or stills at up to 2592x1944, and are tied to storage rated for about 30 video clips or 500 photos at most. Nevertheless, Facebook touts them as a vital stepping-stone to even more powerful versions in the future, some of which might embody the company's AR/VR ambitions towards the end of this path.
In the meantime, Ray-Ban has nominated a handful of its popular styles for its inaugural tech-infused line: Wayfarer (or Wayfarer Large); Meteor, and Round. They are finished in a choice of 5 colors and can be configured with lens options that extend to transition-type or prescription if necessary.
The Ray-Ban Stories come with their own case for charging as well as storage, a USB type-C cable, a cleaning cloth and a drawstring bag in which to keep all of this new tech. Users who don't mind helping Facebook's ostensible relentless quest to make its name as literal as possible can do so for US$299. Then again, its first-gen glasses are only available in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Ireland and Italy at present.