Facebook launches £299 SMART GLASSES with Ray-Ban

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Facebook has partnered with Ray-Ban to launch a range of smart glasses that feature two hidden cameras, allowing you to secretly snap photos and video on the go. 

Named Ray-Ban Stories, they cost £299 in the UK ($299 in the US) and come with dual integrated five megapixel cameras, a three microphone array and discreet open-ear speakers. 

Images and video captured with Facebook’s glasses can be shared via a smartphone to TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and other social media services. 

The launch is thought to be part of Mark Zuckerberg‘s plan for the social media platform to become a ‘metaverse’ seeping into the real world. 

The term ‘metaverse,’ coined in the 1992 dystopian novel ‘Snow Crash,’ is used to describe immersive, shared spaces accessed across different platforms where the physical and digital converge. 

Zuckerberg, who co-founded Facebook in 2004, has described the metaverse as an ’embodied internet.’ 

Glasses with built in cameras and microphones aren’t a new thing, with Snapchat releasing its own glasses called Spectacles in 2016, allowing users to take video and photos from their own eye view. 

Facebook has partnered with Ray-Ban to launch a range of smart glasses that feature two hidden cameras allowing you to secretly snap photos and video on the go

Facebook has partnered with Ray-Ban to launch a range of smart glasses that feature two hidden cameras allowing you to secretly snap photos and video on the go

Images and video captured with the glasses can be shared via a smartphone to TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and other social media services

Images and video captured with the glasses can be shared via a smartphone to TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and other social media services

RAY-BAN STORIES: FACEBOOK-POWERED SMART SPECS 

Ray-Ban partnered with Facebook to create smart specs based on their existing range of glasses frames.

They are available in the Wayfarer, Meteor and Round types.

The new technology adds a pair of cameras, speaker and microphone array to the frame.

Unlike true ‘smart glasses’ that can share video directly or allow you to view content from the web in your line of sight, these record audio and video to be shared via a companion app.

Specifications  

  • Weight: 50g (1.7oz)
  • Camera: Dual 5MP
  • Sound: Open-ear speaker
  • Microphone: Triple array
  • Companion app: Facebook View
  • Price: From £299 ($299) 
  • Manufacturer: Ray-Ban/Facebook
  • Available: September 9  

Facebook described the Ray-Ban Stories product as a way to seamlessly capture, share and listen through your most authentic moments.  

The social media giant worked with EssilorLuxottica, Ray-Ban’s parent company.

‘Ray-Ban Stories is designed to help people live in the moment and stay connected to the people they are with and the people they wish they were with,’ said Andrew Bosworth, VP, Facebook Reality Labs. 

‘EssilorLuxottica has been nothing short of stellar in this partnership and through their commitment to excellence we were able to deliver on both style and substance in a way that will redefine the expectations of smart glasses.

‘We’re introducing an entirely new way for people to stay connected to the world around them and truly be present in life’s most important moments, and to look good while doing it.’

The glasses feature a Snapdragon processor and weigh just 50g (1.7oz) – about 5g (0.17oz) more than a standard pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses.

As well as cameras mounted on the top corners of frames, designed to replicate the human-eye view, they include a three-microphone array to ‘deliver rich voice and sound transmission for calls and videos’.

This could pose difficulties for the social media giant, with analysts suggesting it could further erode civil liberties, making it hard for people to avoid the camera.

Kurt Opsahl, deputy executive director and general counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told S&P Global: ‘The rise in popularity of smart glasses could further erode any sense of privacy in public settings.

‘That concern would only be compounded by product launches from big tech companies already facing heightened scrutiny for data-handling practices.’

This is ‘following a number of privacy breaches in recent years,’ Opsahl added.

Named Ray-Ban Stories, they cost £299 ($299) and come with dual integrated five megapixel cameras, a three microphone array and discreet open-ear speakers

Named Ray-Ban Stories, they cost £299 ($299) and come with dual integrated five megapixel cameras, a three microphone array and discreet open-ear speakers

Facebook described the Ray-Ban Stories product as a way to seamlessly capture, share and listen through your most authentic moments

Facebook described the Ray-Ban Stories product as a way to seamlessly capture, share and listen through your most authentic moments

‘For millennia, if you’re in a crowd, you have relative privacy because people wouldn’t be able to recognize you [and] might forget that you were there. With always-on cameras, that difficulty sort of disappears.’

The new glasses will work like a remote version of the camera already in a smartphone, with recorded video and photos shared via a smartphone app. 

They will be available as sunglasses, prescription glasses, polarised, gradient, transition and clear lenses.  

The social media giant worked with EssilorLuxottica, Ray-Ban's parent company, to engineer smart technology that could be worn all day without compromising style

The social media giant worked with EssilorLuxottica, Ray-Ban’s parent company, to engineer smart technology that could be worn all day without compromising style

The glasses feature a Snapdragon processor and weigh just 50g (1.7oz), or about 5g (0.17oz) more than a standard pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses

The glasses feature a Snapdragon processor and weigh just 50g (1.7oz), or about 5g (0.17oz) more than a standard pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses

The new glasses will work like a remote version of the camera already in a smartphone, with recorded video and photos shared via a smartphone app

The new glasses will work like a remote version of the camera already in a smartphone, with recorded video and photos shared via a smartphone app

The frames will require a new companion app called Facebook View, available for iOS and Android, that lets you import, edit and share content captured by the glasses. 

‘We are incredibly proud to bring Ray-Ban Stories to life with our partners at Facebook,’ said Rocco Basilico, Chief Wearables Officer at EssilorLuxottica. 

‘This is a milestone product that proves consumers don’t have to choose between technology and fashion – they can live in the moment and stay connected while wearing their favourite style of Ray-Ban’s.  

The frames will require a companion app called Facebook View, available for iOS and Android, that lets you import, edit and share content captured by the glasses

The frames will require a companion app called Facebook View, available for iOS and Android, that lets you import, edit and share content captured by the glasses

The Ray-Ban Stories will be available as sunglasses, prescription glasses, polarised, gradient, transition and clear lenses

The Ray-Ban Stories will be available as sunglasses, prescription glasses, polarised, gradient, transition and clear lenses

Snap Spectacles: How Snapchat entered the real world

Snapchat was one of the first social media firms to try their hand at putting cameras on the faces of its users.

2016 – Spectacles first released: Hands free video capture glasses called Spectacles came out on November 10, 2016 from Snap Inc.

The first generation introduced one of the smallest wireless video cameras in the world, integrated seamlessly into a fun pair of sunglasses.

2018 – Snap launches Spectacles 2 followed by new Spectacles styles Nico and Veronica

With the second generation of Spectacles, the firm tested a more elevated look and made tech improvements like higher quality audio and video capture, and sleeker/ smaller electronics for a more comfortable frame.

2019 – Snap releases Spectacles 3 with dual HD cameras to empower creativity in 3D

Spectacles 3 introduces two HD cameras to capture Snaps in 3D and transform them with AR 3D Effects.

Depth is an important building block for Augmented Reality because it allows the camera to understand where objects are in a three-dimensional space.  

2019 – Snap introduces Scan to help Snapchatters discover and understand the world around them.

Scan allows you to search through millions of lenses in the fastest and easiest way possible: with the camera.

Scan matches what you see through the camera to the most relevant AR experiences on Snapchat.

‘Our unique approach, combining decades of superior craftsmanship, a dedicated spirit of innovation and a commitment to delivering only cutting edge technology has resulted in a wearable that people will truly love wearing.’ 

The launch is thought to be part of Mark Zuckerberg’s plan for the social media platform to become a ‘metaverse’ seeping into the real world. 

He has previously said that augmented reality (AR) glasses are the ‘Holy Grail’ of ‘delivering a sense of presence while not taking you away from the physical world.’

The term ‘metaverse,’ coined in the 1992 dystopian novel ‘Snow Crash,’ is used to describe immersive, shared spaces accessed across different platforms where the physical and digital converge. 

Zuckerberg has described it as an ’embodied internet,’ that will include virtual reality, augmented reality, the world wide web and reality.

It has been referenced in several recent earnings calls by tech CEOs.

This includes a call with Zuckerberg, Microsoft Corp’s Satya Nadella, gaming company Roblox Corp’s David Baszucki and Match Group Inc’s Shar Dubey.

They all talked about how their companies could shape aspects of this futuristic realm. 

Leo Gebbie, principal analyst, Connected Devices, CCS Insight said: ‘Allowing seamless digital interaction where AR makes it seem like your family and friends are right in front of you is the Holy Grail for many device makers and developers, and I expect to see Facebook heavily focus on this. 

‘Still, there will be a plethora of other use cases for AR – gaming, entertainment, and productivity, to name just a few – which will emerge alongside this. 

‘As we’ve seen with VR, one use case is not enough, and emerging technologies need to deliver a range of utilities to succeed.’

Apple is also rumoured to be working on its own glasses product, although it is thought they would be a fully augmented reality pair – where the digital world is overlaid on the real world, including maps, chat and contact information.

This is similar to Google Glass, a beta product realised by the tech firm in 2013 that failed to take hold outside of some enterprise uses, including hospitals, due to privacy concerns.   

Starting at £299 ($299), the Ray-Ban Stories frames are available from Ray-Ban stores in the UK, US, UK, Italy, Australia, Ireland and Canada today. 

As well as cameras mounted on the top corners of frames, they include a three-microphone array to 'deliver rich voice and sound transmission for calls and videos'

As well as cameras mounted on the top corners of frames, they include a three-microphone array to ‘deliver rich voice and sound transmission for calls and videos’

The move is thought to be part of Mark Zuckerberg's plan for the social media platform to become a 'metaverse' seeping into the real world

The move is thought to be part of Mark Zuckerberg’s plan for the social media platform to become a ‘metaverse’ seeping into the real world

THE FACEBOOK ‘METAVERSE’ A VIRTUAL WORLD WITHIN A WORLD 

In a recent interview, Mark Zuckerberg said that over the next five years, he wants people to think of Facebook not as a social media company, but a ‘metaverse’ company.

That is one that is akin to a virtual environment where people can work and play for most of their 24 hours without leaving their home.

‘And my hope, if we do this well, I think over the next five years or so, in this next chapter of our company, I think we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company,’ Zuckerberg said in the interview with The Verge

‘And obviously, all of the work that we’re doing across the apps that people use today contribute directly to this vision in terms of building community and creators. 

‘But this is something that I’m spending a lot of time on, thinking a lot about, we’re working on a ton. And I think it’s just a big part of the next chapter for the work that we’re going to do in the whole industry.’

So what exactly is the metaverse? 

As Zuckerberg describes it, it’s a ‘vision’ that spans the entire tech industry, calling it the successor to the mobile internet.

‘But you can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it,’ he continued. 

‘And you feel present with other people as if you were in other places, having different experiences that you couldn’t necessarily do on a 2D app or webpage, like dancing, for example, or different types of fitness.’ 

The Facebook CEO says his vision – which he has been working on for several months – would not only reach into virtual reality, but augmented reality, computers, mobile devices and game consoles as well.

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