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Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses, formerly known as Ray-Ban Stories, are smartglasses created as a collaboration between Meta Platforms and EssilorLuxottica. They include two cameras, open-ear speakers, a microphone, and touchpad, all built into the frame.[1]

Ray-Ban Stories are the latest in a line of smartglasses released by major companies including Snap Inc and Google and are designed as one component of Facebook’s plans for a metaverse.[2]

Unlike other smart glasses, the Ray-Ban Stories do not include any HUD or AR head-mounted display. On September 27, 2023, Meta removed the "Stories" name and announced the second generation of Meta Ray-Ban Smart Glasses, which featured a Qualcomm Snapdragon AR1 Gen1 processor, upgrade of the cameras to 12 MP, improved audio, livestreaming to Facebook and Instagram, and Meta AI.[3]

The glasses were announced in August 2020 and released on September 9, 2021. They received criticism stemming from mistrust over Facebook’s privacy controls.[4] The small size of the recording indicator light has also led to criticism.[5]

Partnership and release

Ray-Ban Stories.

The partnership between EssilorLuxottica, Ray-Ban's parent company, and Facebook to create the first generation of Ray-Ban Stories was publicly announced on September 20, 2020, by CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the seventh annual Facebook Connect conference.[6] During the keynote video, Zuckerberg described several new Facebook innovations, such as the Oculus Quest 2, a new augmented reality division called Project Aria, and the Ray-Ban Stories themselves.[7]

In the following year after its initial announcement, Zuckerberg and Facebook Chief Technology Officer Andrew Bosworth would hint at a 2021 release date through FPV (first person view) video clips appearing to be taken using a Ray-Ban Stories prototype.[8]

On September 9, 2021, Facebook launched Ray-Ban Stories, which were touted as the company’s first product related to its plans for a metaverse.[9]

Development

Ray-Ban Stories on user.

According to Facebook, the Luxottica team re-engineered the components of the glasses to fit technology such as: a set of micro-speakers, a three-microphone audio array, an optimized Snapdragon processor, a capacitive touchpad, and a battery. As the glasses are very small, their size caused the engineers to miniaturize each component.[1]

Facebook also states that their engineers used a bass-reflex system in developing the microphones to improve audio quality. For the camera system, an extensive image processing pipeline was utilized to produce high quality video.[1]

To find a viable charging solution, Facebook said they explored multiple solutions and created 20 engineering validation tests to ensure the charging worked.[1]

To address privacy concerns of users and those around them, engineers said they created a hardware power switch and a hardwired LED light to indicate when the camera is recording.[1][9]

Components and features

Hardware

Ray-Ban Stories charging mechanism.

Ray-Ban Stories glasses come in three designs; Round, Wayfarer, and Meteor.[10] Each of these designs come in up to six colors with polarized, transitioning, blue-light filtering, and single or progressive prescription lenses.[10] The glasses also come with two cameras- one for pictures and one video- and connect to the phone with Bluetooth.[11] Photos and videos are automatically stored on the users Facebook account, so an account is necessary for these glasses.[11] The temples of the frames contain speakers and microphones which are used for Facebook Assistant voice control.[12] On the top of the right temple there is a touchpad for touch control to either take a 30 second video by tapping once or take a photo by holding down on the touchpad.[12] Every pair comes with a charging case and USB-C charging cable, which can fully charge the glasses in just over an hour with three hours of battery life.[11] The cameras, microphones, speakers, and touchpad are all connected to a Qualcomm Snapdragon® processor. There is also a corresponding Facebook view app.[11][13]

Compatibility

Stories are compatible with iOS and Android.[11] They currently work with iOS 13 and Android 8.1 and later and do not have backwards compatibility.[11] They support Bluetooth 5.0.[11] The Ray-Ban Stories connect to Wi-Fi 802.11ac.[11]

Facebook view app

To view, manage, and edit content captured on Ray-Ban Stories, Facebook released the Facebook View mobile app on August 23, 2021, in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. When using the app, users are prompted to log in with their Facebook account before pairing their Ray-Ban Stories to get access to sharing and management features. Current features on the app include importing, editing, and formatting photos and videos shot on Ray-Ban Stories for sharing on Facebook affiliated products such as Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and other social media sites. The app also shows the Stories’ battery percentage.[14][15]

Ray-Ban Stories, Feedback LED, and Case.

Specifications

Privacy concerns

Commentators have raised concerns about the potential invasion of privacy.[4] Without prior knowledge of the product, the glasses could be confused for a regular pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses by individuals in close proximity to the user.[12] Another feature that poses a potential privacy concern has to do with the device’s listening capabilities. Individuals have voiced concerns about the ability of our smart devices to record and listen to users, with or without their permission.[16] Facebook alleges that the glasses are only able to listen to the user after hearing the “Hey, Facebook” wake phrase, which in turn will alert the glasses to one of three commands, take a photo, record a video, or stop recording.[4]

In light of privacy and security breaches happening at Facebook, there has been a growing number of concerns over how data is stored and retrieved from different devices.[17] Facebook, in response to this concern, stated that they will not be able to access the content captured via Ray-Ban Stories without authorization from the user. In contrast to this, the Facebook View app says that the user's voice commands could be sent to Facebook unless the user explicitly opts out.[18] According to the company, this data would be used to "personalize" the user's experience.[18] The company also shared that it has a team dedicated to encrypting photos and data in order to prevent cyber hacking.[19]

The concern that has generated the most vocal response- including concerns from Facebook’s lead privacy regulator in Europe, the Irish Data Protection Committee (DPC), centers on the effectiveness of the glasses at alerting other individuals when they are being photographed or recorded.[5] Facebook claims that the LED light feature in the upper right hand corner of the glasses is able to notify individuals that the person wearing the glasses is recording a video or capturing a photo from up to 25 feet away.[4] According to the article, if a user were to cover the LED light, the camera does not record video and notifies the user.[19] The article also suggests good practices for safety and being a good community member, including: respecting people’s preferences, explaining how the LED light works, not capturing images while operating a vehicle, and powering off the glasses in private spaces.[19]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Ray-Ban and Facebook introduce Ray-Ban Stories, first-generation smart glasses". Facebook Technology. 2021-09-09. Retrieved 2021-11-03.
  2. ^ "Connect 2021: Our vision for the metaverse". Facebook Technology. 2021-10-28. Retrieved 2021-11-03.
  3. ^ "Introducing the New Ray-Ban | Meta Smart Glasses". Meta. 2023-09-27. Retrieved 2024-01-08.
  4. ^ a b c d Egliston, Ben; Carter, Marcus (13 September 2021). "Ray-Ban Stories let you wear Facebook on your face. But why would you want to?". The Conversation. Retrieved 2021-11-02.
  5. ^ a b "Facebook warned over 'very small' indicator LED on smart glasses, as EU DPAs flag privacy concerns". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2021-11-02.
  6. ^ Robertson, Adi (2020-09-16). "Facebook Connect 7: the 5 biggest announcements". The Verge. Retrieved 2021-10-30.
  7. ^ "Project Aria | About Facebook | Meta". About Facebook. Retrieved 2021-10-30.
  8. ^ Robertson, Adi (2021-09-07). "Facebook and Ray-Ban tease smart glasses announcement on September 9th". The Verge. Retrieved 2021-10-30.
  9. ^ a b Culliford, Elizabeth (2021-09-09). "Facebook unveils its first smart glasses". Reuters. Retrieved 2021-10-30.
  10. ^ a b "RAY-BAN STORIES". Luxxotica.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Leger, Henry St (2021-09-09). "Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses review". TechRadar. Retrieved 2021-11-01.
  12. ^ a b c "Facebook glasses: Not overly 'smart,' maybe a little shady". Washington Post.
  13. ^ "CAPTURE, SHARE AND LISTEN WITH OUR FIRST GENERATION OF SMART GLASSES". Ray-Ban.
  14. ^ "Facebook View". App Store. Retrieved 2021-10-30.
  15. ^ "Facebook View - Apps on Google Play". play.google.com. Retrieved 2021-10-30.
  16. ^ "Are You Worried About Smart Home Devices Listening to You?". PCMAG. Retrieved 2021-11-02.
  17. ^ Holmes, Aaron. "533 million Facebook users' phone numbers and personal data have been leaked online". Business Insider. Retrieved 2021-11-02.
  18. ^ a b "Why Facebook is using Ray-Ban to stake a claim on our faces". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2021-11-06.
  19. ^ a b c "Designed for privacy, controlled by you". Meta. Retrieved 2021-11-02.