Parents of infants and toddlers might recognize the frustrations that come with having to pull your smartphone out to record this ‘new thing’ that your baby does, but completely missing the moment by the time, the camera app opens. Would you not happily crowdfund a project that makes smart glasses, just for moments like these? Well, you don’t have to now, because Facebook has already made them and they are called, Ray-Ban Stories.
For quite a few years, Facebook has spoken about getting into wearable tech and by tech, they largely meant cameras. When you own three platforms that do not generate any content of their own but only share photos and videos of their users, you want more and more cameras out there, capturing every moment that could be worthy of sharing. But after struggling to find the right design for the wearable glasses, the social media company tied up with Luxottica Group, owners of the Ray-Ban brand.
Although the grand plan is to introduce augmented reality, the Menlo Park-based company has started off more modestly with two cameras fitted on a conventional Ray-Ban design. Fans of Google Glass will be quick to deplore the lack of originality in the design of these glasses. Even the idea of tying up with an eyewear manufacturer is not original, with Snap, developers of Snapchat, having managed this two years ago, for their Snap Spectacles. Will Ray-Ban Stories succeed, where Google Glass and Spectacles failed?
Facebook’s strategy seems to lie low and not do something radical with these glasses. The company is probably attempting to NOT surprise people as these glasses look very much like the Wayfarers that Ray-Ban has traditionally sold. Not putting Facebook branding on the glasses is also likely to be an intentional move, learnings from Google’s and Snap’s experiences perhaps. This way, the focus moves away from the glasses being a ‘Facebook’ product and raising the negativity that the company’s offerings often attract these days. So, what do Ray-Ban Stories offer the customer?
The ability to snap pictures and record 30-second videos at a moment’s notice using the camera button on the arm of the glasses. Apart from this, the glasses also sport two tiny speakers that simulate shutter sounds, whenever an image is taken. Not just that, you can connect them to your phone and listen to songs, podcasts, or even answer phone calls using the array of microphones that have all been neatly fitted into the arms of the glasses. The right arm serves as a touch-based control panel, so you can tap on it to perform functions like accepting or ending a call, skipping a track, or even adjust the volume of the speakers.
The images and videos that you capture using the two five-megapixel cameras on the glasses are transmitted to your smartphone, where you can peruse them at your leisure in a brand new Facebook app, called View. From here, you can choose to edit the images or stitch together multiple videos and then send them to your camera roll or upload them to Facebook, Instagram, or any photo sharing or storing site you prefer. The app also offers some AR tricks using the depth data of the images, CNET reported.
The glasses can hold up to 500 photos or 35 videos, Facebook reported, and have a battery life of about six hours when used moderately, Wired reported. When the glasses, run out of juice, you need to put them back in their case, where they can charge (have we seen this before, Oh Snap, we can’t remember) back in just over an hour. The case itself can be charged using a USB-Type C port and hold enough charge for three cycles of the glasses.
Priced at $299, these camera glasses will allow also people to watch and record other people from a distance and unknowingly. While Facebook has tried to put a white LED warning light on the frame, that is little protection for the unsuspecting public at large, who think you are just wearing your Ray-Bans. Was that the idea behind the product, only Facebook can tell.