Facebook’s (FB) new smart glasses – that can be used to take photos and videos as well as listen to music and make calls – in collaboration with Ray-Ban have hit the market.
Starting at $299 (£215) Ray-Ban Stories come with a portable charging case and are available in 20 styles and five colours, based on the classic Wayfarer design. They can be bought online and in some retail stores in the US and UK as well as Australia, Canada, Ireland and Italy.
They are similar to Snapchat’s (SNAP) Spectacles, now in their third generation. The name 'Stories' will remind users of the popular Instagram feature that goes by the same name, and was inspired by a Snapchat feature allowing users to post photos and short clips that would disappear after 24 hours.
The new glasses come with dual integrated 5MP cameras allowing users to take photos and up to 30-second videos using the capture button or hands-free with Facebook Assistant voice commands.
For those concerned about privacy, Facebook has said the glasses have a light in the corner that lights up when the camera is being used to alert people in the vicinity.
Facebook said it has "baked privacy directly into the product design”.
There is a power switch to turn off the cameras and microphone while all photos and videos are encrypted.
Ray-Ban Stories pairs with the new Facebook View app, so users can “share their point of view” on social media. Content can also directly be stored in the consumer’s phone’s camera roll.
“We had to re-engineer components so that everything — that’s two cameras, a set of micro-speakers, a three-microphone audio array, an optimized Snapdragon processor, a capacitive touchpad, a battery, and more — fit into the smallest possible space and the lightest possible frame," Facebook said.
Facebook now has its sight set firmly on augmented reality (AR) glasses, which will be along the lines of the Google Glass, a concept Google (GOOGL) tried and failed at.
“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," Facebook said.
Snap has also beaten Facebook to the punch here. It was the first top US tech company to unveil AR glasses in May. Meanwhile Apple (AAPL) also plans to launch smart glasses next year.
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