Facebook Releases Controversial Smart Glasses with Ray Bans

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Written By: Nazli Mohideen

In a digital world like today, there is always rising pressure on companies to release the next best thing whether that’s an electric car, updated phone, or wireless product. With more electronics, however, comes safety concerns in regards to the consumer’s internet safety when using such products. People are fleeing left and right from social media platforms, citing security breaches and data monitoring as reasons to leave. 

On Thursday, September 9, 2021, Facebook officially announced its partnership with the sunglasses company, Ray Bans, in anticipation of their collaborative product, Ray-Ban Stories. Available primarily online and priced at $299 US dollars, the glasses are capable of capturing photos and videos, answering voice calls, and playing music or podcasts. Instead of being on a phone at an event, the slick design of the glasses lets people walk in style and enjoy the present moment, all the while having access to traditional features of a smartphone. 

The product is widely accessible, too. In addition to being sold online, the glasses can be found in select stores around the United States and in parts of Canada, Ireland, Italy, Australia, and the UK. The lenses come in about 20 different styles and there are custom options for them to be transition or prescription if necessary.

 Each pair also comes with a charging case to continue use after the initial battery dies out. There have been user complaints saying the battery life on the product is poor, completely dying after only a couple hours of usage, especially when playing music. A quick solution to this is by using the power switch located on the side of the frames to turn off all of the glasses’ features. Use of the glasses is even more limited since they are not waterproof. 

Similar to a GoPro, the Ray-Ban Stories presents the perspective of a moment just as how the user experienced it firsthand. The multiple microphones and speakers pick up high-quality audio with minimal background noise. 

As for recording videos and taking pictures, a user can do this by simply commanding the product to do so as you would with Siri on an Apple product, for example. Holding down the button on the upper corners of the glasses will take a photo and simply pressing the same button will start to record a video up to 30 seconds in length. 

A little white light on the device indicates that it is currently recording or taking a photo, alerting others when this feature is used in public. However, according to some customers’ experience, the light isn’t clearly visible contrary to what the company has been marketing it to seem. 

Media from the glasses are automatically transferred to the user’s Facebook account for later posting and others to subsequently like, share, comment, etc. All image editing should take place within the Facebook app as well. From there, photos and videos can be sent to other social media apps like Snapchat and Instagram. 

This vision is all thanks to Facebook CEO and business mastermind, Mark Zuckerberg, who hopes to introduce another pair of sunglasses in the future that can resemble augmented reality. Zuckerberg claims his product is a direct segway to “when phones are no longer a central part of our lives and you won’t have to choose between interacting with a device or interacting with the world around you.” Rocco Basilico, who helped bring Zuckerberg’s vision to life, says “…Ray Ban [Stories] sits at the intersection of fashion and innovation…” 

Just days ahead of the product’s release, however, people have already flooded the internet with concerns. “This makes me so uncomfortable and paranoid,” someone says. Others call it “creepy” and another chimed in calling it “ridiculous and laughable.” After all, at any time, someone can take a picture or video of you from far away with this device and you might not ever know. 

Other companies have come out with similar products, many of which were not successful in sales. Despite Facebook’s and Ray Bans’ respective popularity, are people really willing to sacrifice their smartphone and privacy for this new, hands-free experience??