Facebook Unveils Its First Smart Glasses

Social media giant Facebook launched its first smart glasses Thursday which allows users to take videos and capture images using a capture button or hands-free with the use of Facebook Assistant voice commands.

The roll out of the smart glasses is a cautious move to test the waters before rivals such as Apple enter the market, according to research firm Global Data, which estimates the consumer smart glasses market to be worth $565 million by 2030.

Ray-Ban stories

The glasses, introduced as Ray-Ban Stories and created in partnership with Ray-Ban maker Essilor Luxottica, not only allows users to take pictures or shoot videos, it also allows them to take calls and listen to music or podcasts as it includes speakers and a microphone.

Using a companion app, wearers can share their captured photos, taken with the use of the glasses’ dual integrated 5MP cameras, and recorded short videos of up to 30 seconds across Facebook services using a companion app. The Facebook View app on iOS and Android will make it easy to import, edit, and share content.

“Widespread adoption will depend on the device’s usability and price,” said Global Data Associate Project Manager Rupnagar Guha. “Presumably, the lack of augmented reality (AR) capabilities will help keep prices down.”

“However, while the artificial intelligence (AI) based voice assistant, spatial audio, and a built-in camera will go a long way, they should really be adding in audio experiences such as fitness coaching, navigation, news, language translation and music streaming to the Frey if they want to appeal to the broader consumer base that do not use Facebook’s social media services,” Guha added.

The glasses are available in 20-style combinations and are available for purchase online and in select stores in the US, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, and the UK.

Road to augmented reality

Facebook said in a statement that their next step would be to go into virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

“Like today’s computers and smartphones, AR will be useful while also enabling us to transcend the physical distance between people and connect through social presence — the feeling that you’re right there with another person, no matter where in the world they happen to be,” the social media company said in a statement.

According to Guha, Facebook’s plans for AR smart glasses will hinge on whether it can develop a variety of experiences for potential users and its handling of data privacy issues.

What about privacy?

“Many also perceive smart glasses as a threat to privacy due to built-in cameras and microphones that can record video and audio,” Guha said, adding that Facebook will be under regulatory scrutiny to prevent any misuse of user data.

But Facebook said its new Ray-Ban Stories glasses is baked with privacy built directly into the product design and functionality of the full experience, from the start.

“For example, we have hardware protections like a power switch to turn off the cameras and microphone, as well as the aforementioned capture LED hardwired to the camera that shines a white light when you’re taking photos or videos to notify people nearby,” the company said in a statement.

“Controls in the Facebook View app help you customize your experience—you determine things like your personal preferences for importing photos and videos and when and where you share content you capture with the glasses,” Facebook added. “The ability to control your settings and content were top concerns for people in user research we conducted on wearable technology and privacy.”

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