Facebook has taken its first step in its long-term goal of delivering true augmented-reality spectacles, after teaming up with luxury sunglasses maker Ray Ban.
It comes after Facebook in March this year offered the world a glimpse of a wristband that reads neural signals to give a new way for users to interact with its planned Augmented Reality (AR) glasses.
Facebook’s AR glasses are intended to be released later this year, overlaying digital imagery on the user’s view of the real world.
But for now it is offering its first actual smart glasses option, with the ‘Ray-Ban Stories’, which allow wearers to listen to music, take calls or capture photos and short videos and share them across Facebook’s services using a companion app.
The Ray-Ban Stories will allow the user to take first-person perspective pictures and 30 second videos thanks to dual integrated 5MP cameras.
The user can either manually take a picture or short video, or go hands-free with Facebook Assistant voice commands.
“A hard-wired capture LED lights up to let people nearby know when you’re taking a photo or video,” said Facebook. “Streamlined, open-ear speakers are built in, and Ray-Ban Stories’ three-microphone audio array delivers richer voice and sound transmission for calls and videos.”
Facebook said the smart glasses use ‘beamforming technology and a background noise suppression algorithm’ to provide an enhanced calling experience.
And of course Facebook wants the user to share their lives with the world, so it has provided the new Facebook View app (Android, iOS), so users can share their “stories and memories seamlessly with friends and social media followers.”
The Facebook View app also apparently makes it easy to import, edit and share content captured on the smart glasses to apps on a person’s phone.
“From the start, we designed Ray-Ban Stories with privacy in mind, adding numerous built-in features to provide control and peace of mind to both device owners and bystanders,” said Facebook.
Google stopped production of its smart glasses for the consumer sector way back in 2015.
Google took the decision after a rather lacklustre reception to the comical appearance of the wearable device, coupled with the privacy issues the smart glasses threw up.
Matters were also not helped by the high purchase price of Google Glass (£1,000 back in 2014).
Facebook will be hoping for better luck with its Ray-Ban Stories.
Ray-Ban Stories are available in 20 variations, in classic Ray-Ban styles – Wayfarer, Wayfarer Large, Round and Meteor – and five colours with a range of lenses including clear, sun, transition and prescription.
Prices start at $299.
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