I’m torn right down the middle on this product, amazing innovation perfectly well executed, but a nightmare of privacy issues front and center. Facebook’s Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses are on sale today for $449 and they’re going to change social media forever.
They’re not the first, Snapchat’s “Spectacles” have been around for five years, but while Snapchat is big, it’s not Facebook big. So, with Facebook putting video recording on your normal looking Ray-Bans – that’s a big deal.
How do they work?
These look just like normal Ray-Ban glasses, and can be ordered as sunnies, with prescription lenses or transitions and they’re not some online Facebook Marketplace thing – these are at OPSM and Sunglass Hut.
Two small 5MP lenses sit on each side of the glasses, trigger a new video recording with the pinch of the button on the right arm of the glasses and it will record for 30 seconds.
Press again it will stop, or it will stop itself at 30 seconds.
Push and hold the button to take a still photo.
Inside the left arm is a power switch, so you can turn them off and know they are off. Inside the glasses in view of your right eye is a small LED to indicate the glasses battery status and recording status.
On the outside, just next to one of the lenses is a small (tiny) LED light which shines white when it’s recording.
Technically speaking, these are very very well executed. I assumed it would be rubbish quality and hard to watch, but no. It’s a square 1184×1184 video, which is stabilised by software on your smartphone when the videos are transferred. And the quality is pretty darn good.
Not going to be amazing in bright light, nor low light – but they are generation one.
Sharing Videos from your Facebook Ray-Bans
Nothing is uploaded to Facebook Automatically, nothing is auto shared. This is about the glasses capturing moments and storing them.
Open the Facebook View app – and using Bluetooth the glasses connect, then transfer any new media that’s been captured.
Inside that app, you can create small compilations, but in reality that’s the one area they need to focus on most to make creating clips from multiple memories a little bit easier.
I can see a huge growth in PoV (point of view) videos on every single platform, Facebook, Instagram and likely also TikTok.
It’s a really big difference talking to a mirror wearing a camera in your glasses than it is holding a phone up to the mirror – you know those videos, everyone is doing them.
So – Privacy.
Yep, it’s creepy. If you don’t know these exist, you’d have no idea you’re even likely to be recorded. Facebook will market these a lot, but will people really be on the lookout?
Of course, Facebook is doing everything they can to educate people. On launch the app tells you how to film responsibly. They recommend disclosure and use in public spaces not private and they are to be commended for that. They’ve done all they can.
But there will always be people who ignore the rules, break the rules, and care less for other people. What they film, and how they use it – is the worry.
Fortunately, 30 seconds is the limit. So if you see someone touching the right arm of their glasses every 30 seconds, be suspicious.
The real surprise feature here is audio. Not only is the audio recorded by the frames excellent, but they act as Bluetooth Headphones too. So listening to podcasts, music and even phone calls, is a breeze with just your sunnies on. Just like the Bose Frames – but with Video cameras!
I’ve only had them a week, so I can’t be totally sure, but if you’re planning to record loads of content over many hours, they will drain down within an hour or so. But if you’re clipping a video ever now and then you might get through a good part of the day.
Also, streaming music is going to drain the battery.
The glasses case contains enough battery for another few recharges of the glasses – so no need for a power point too often.
What’s the upshot?
We should call out anyone who uses these in breach of anyone’s privacy. Facebook can’t be to blame for that. If not Facebook creating this product for the masses, someone will.
So, enjoy them for what they are, a great new way to capture moments and memories that you can share on any platform you choose.
They come in a few designs, so find the Ray-Ban Stories to suit you.