Facebook made its move into the notoriously challenging consumer smart glasses segment, launching Ray-Ban Stories in partnership with eyewear giant EssilorLuxottica.
The device is the first product to come out of a multi-year partnership between Ray-Ban parent EssilorLuxottica and the social media company signed in 2020. The pair eventually plan to develop eyewear including AR features.
Ray-Ban Stories includes a 5MP camera to capture images and videos of up to 30 seconds, and comes with a speaker and microphone built-in. Users will be able to edit and upload images to social media channels via the dedicated Facebook View iOS or Android app.
In its statement on the release, Facebook pointed several times to the device’s privacy credentials and a pledge users would not have advertising pushed to the glasses.
Privacy-focused features include settings on data sharing through the associated app, a power switch to shut-off the camera and a white light to alert others when filming or image capture is in progress.
Ray-Ban Stories costs $299 and is available in 20 designs.
Various technology and social media companies have tried their hand at smart glasses in recent years, though none have achieved mainstream success.
The closest to Facebook’s recent effort in terms of price and features is from rival Snap, which is on its third iteration despite unsold stock of its original design being blamed for a $40 million write down in 2017.
Fellow tech giant Google released its much-maligned Glass in 2013 to a chorus of media coverage raising concerns about privacy. By its second iteration, the company was targeting the device solely at enterprises.
Comenting on Facebook’s launch, CCS Insight principal analyst Leo Gebbie said: “The market for smart glasses is in the extremely early stages of development, and I don’t expect the Facebook and Ray-Ban glasses to suddenly transform this”.
“Other smartglasses products which don’t feature AR have failed to inspire the mass market, so I’d question whether Facebook’s new product will change this trend,” he added.