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Facebook and Ray-Ban Launch Sunglasses With Cameras on Them. What Could Go Wrong?

They're called Ray-Ban Stories. They're $299. They're a horrible idea.

man wearing rayban sunglasses

Did you see the news? No? Let me fill you in. Facebook worked with Ray-Ban to make sunglasses with cameras on them. With them, and a quick "Hey, Facebook," you can take photos or videos of whatever it is you're looking at. I just have one question: Who asked for this?

Ray-Ban Wayfarers are fine as is. Nothing more, I've argued. They should've stayed analog. So, who thought slapping two cameras onto the front of them was a smart idea? Further, two cameras with direct connection to a company plagued by user and data privacy issues — and with transparency issues to boot. With Facebook's acquisition of Oculus in the rearview, and their missions nearly merged by now, are Ray-Ban Stories (yes, that's what they're called) a way of warming the general consumer up to the idea of "Facebook on your face?"

The reasons for having a hands-free device, and more specifically a camera, abound. You're less likely to text (or snap photos) and drive or walk across the street or bike. You can continue with your task at hand while talking on the phone. Getting answers to questions like, "what's the weather today?" becomes a non-physical task. But, you're late, Facebook. The features embedded in the Ray-Ban Stories barely supersede those in Snap's Spectacles, which have been around since 2016. So, what's the point?

woman wearing rayban sunglasses

With Ray-Ban Stories you open a channel: from your eye-level POV to a Facebook post. You can't however stream straight from the glasses to a live video or to an actual post. You'll have to download and then upload manually. It makes for a few more steps between point of capture and posting but it's for your own safety, Facebook says. Facebook also promises it can't see the photos and videos you take — only how many you do and how long they are. Plus, for people in your line of sight, awareness is everything: the shutter sound can't be turned off and an LED light activates when in use.

Want others to see life through your eyes? Well, they literally can, courtesy of these new frames. But tell them to prepare for pixelation: the images captured on Ray-Ban Stories look less like those snapped on new-age iPhones — 12 megapixels vs 5 megapixels— and more like those you use to navigate a Street View on Google Maps. In plainer terms, they suck. Plus, if you have any semblance of camera experience, switching to verbal commands and pointing your eyes at your subject isn't an easy adjustment. Fast Company Technology Editor, Harry McCracken, says he cut plenty of heads off in the photo-taking process.

For the detail oriented, the Ray-Ban Stories certainly look different from traditional Wayfarers (or Rounds or Meteors, which they're making, too). In place of anchors, there are two cameras. Worn around the oblivious, these blend in — and feel roughly the same. (They're only 5 grams heavier.) Although that's likely what the designers strived for, both are undoubtedly bad things.


Ray-Ban Wayfarer Stories

Ray-Ban x Facebook Ray-Ban
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