Facebook and Ray-Ban today unveiled Stories, a new line of tech-forward glasses the companies hope will pave the way for a future of smart and stylish AR devices. Stories appear to fit in the same category as the first three generations of Snap’s Spectacles, but also include integrated audio like Bose Frames, making them a little less smart than we had initially hoped—but a lot smarter than most.
Stories are being offered in three distinct flavors: Wayfarer, Round, and Meteor, all of which appear to be pretty similar to original Ray-Ban frame designs. They’re launching today at $300 direct from Ray-Ban as well as official online retailers in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Italy and Australia.
Stories look pretty sleek, which is partly because they don’t have any form of display within, as they feature the sort of lenses you might find in any normal pair of sunglasses or prescription specs. Instead, Stories includes dual 5 megapixel cameras on the temples that let you capture sterescopic video and still images. A single button on the right temple is used to start and stop 30-second video recordings, and take photos.
Facebook is advertising a storage of about thirty 30-second videos or 500 photos, which is said to be kept locally encrypted on the device itself. That’s the only storage metric available to us, so there’s no word on how large that space physically is in GBs.
The frames also house microphones and integrated speakers that stream audio over Bluetooth 5.0, which will let you listen to music or podcasts, and take calls in addition to voice recognition stuff like saying “Hey Facebook, take a video.”
That Facebook Assistant integration and the Facebook View app come part an parcel with Stories, the latter of which acts as your content management platform where you can import, edit, create and share captures.
Check out Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reveal Stories in the video below:
As for privacy, a capture LED on the right temple indicates when Stories are recording, and they also feature a physical off button as well on the glasses’ left strut.
Models are offered in both sunglasses versions with a variety of colors or clear lenses featuring clear with blue light filter, brown gradient, green, grey, blue polarized, and transition lenses.
A magnetic charging case also ships with Stories, although the battery situation is far from clear, both in terms of on-device runtime and added runtime with the case.
Here’s a few basic specs:
- Photo stills: 2,592 x 1,944px
- Video camera: Minimum 1,184 x 1,184px@30fps
- Dual micro speakers
- 3 Microphone Audio Array
- WIFI 802.11 Ac, 2.45/5 Ghz
- Bluetooth 5.0
- OS Compatibility – IOS 13 / Android 8.1 Minimum
Facebook seems to be playing a little fast and loose by specifically calling Stories “smart glasses.” To be fair, Stories are basically a new product segment that aim to bridge the gap between camera glasses like earlier iterations of Snap Spectacles and audio sunglasses like Bose Frames. Smarter glasses, maybe?
Unlike augmented reality, which shows the user digital information that’s presented as if exists in reality itself (think Microsoft HoloLens, Nreal Light, Magic Leap 1), smartglasses typically present actionable information to the user via a small screen that functions as a heads-up display (HUD). Much like a smartwatch, smartglasses are supposed to provide info like text messages, biometrics, incoming phone calls, or turn-by-turn directions. Examples of smartglasses include Google Glass, North Focals, and a number of devices available from Vuzix.
If you want to learn more about smartglasses and AR, check out our primer that tackles that very issue.
This is only the first of what Facebook calls a “multi-year partnership” with Ray-Ban parent company EssilorLuxottica, so it’s likely this is only the first of what will become an evolving product segment towards smarter devices than this.