A partnership between Facebook and iconic sunglasses designer Ray-Ban has delivered Ray-Ban Stories, a new mass-market attempt at smart glasses. The product retains similarities to Snapchat’s Spectacles, but offers a more stylish aesthetic that aligns with Ray Ban’s classic frame lines.
The glasses enable wearers to take photos and 30 second videos, which are stored on a new smartphone app called Facebook View. The app provides users with the abilities to edit and share content. In addition to recording capabilities, the glasses allow people to accept phone calls or to listen to music or podcasts.
The technologies behind the glasses
Ray-Ban Stories relies on a Snapdragon processor. However, no displays exist within the lenses themselves, meaning that they’re not augmented reality spectacles. The frames are just a few meters thick.
To operate the camera component of the glasses, users can say “take a photo.” For video, the glasses respond to “Hey Facebook, start a video.” Buttons also allow for the same capabilities.
An AirPod charging case comes with the glasses purchase, allowing batteries to last for days without power outlet recharging. On their own, the glasses retain about a day’s worth of battery life if a user is out-and-about taking photos.
“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,” says Facebook executive, Andrew Bosworth.
Privacy implications, new technologies
Privacy features are built into the sunglasses themselves. For example, hardware protections that allow cameras and microphones to be turned off are built into the devices. A recording light also indicates when users have the recording feature turned on. The light is white and reminiscent of the recording light on some laptop devices.
Wall Street Journal columnist Joanna Stern reports that none of the people around her noticed the camera’s recording light until she actively mentioned it. Moreover, users can potentially conceal the recording light behind black tape or by using other classic, analog obfuscation techniques.
While Facebook and Ray-Ban point out that the device can support summer vacationers recording spontaneous, fun moments, “there’s a gap between what the tech is intended for and how it can be used,” says Stern.
The smart glasses makers state that they will launch a website outlining privacy protections. Further, a campaign is set to roll out, letting consumers know that these technologies exist. “New norms will develop as people get used to this type of device that can capture…” said Alex Himel, VP of augmented reality at Facebook.
“We believe that this will be the first pair of smart glasses people will truly want to wear,” says Facebook’s Monisha Perkash.
Securing personal data in the age of smart technologies, digital theft and leaks is tough. With the right security infrastructure in place, can we enjoy smart technologies and stay secure?
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