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Ray-Ban Stories — The good, the bad, and the ugly!

by
Varun Mehta
October 4, 2021
5
Min(s)

Cue, lights flashing, massive wisps of smoke, people clamoring for a glimpse of the stage. Enter the star! Just a peek of the star sends the fans into overdrive. Dressed to the nines in a sleek black costume with flashy accessories — embodying that star image to perfection.

By now, you might be wondering who this star is? Is it an actor, author, sportsperson, fashion designer, or artist (should I go on)? I can bet my life (and future children) that you won’t be able to guess who I’m talking about.

Okay, I’ll be kind enough to give a few hints. First, this star has been a legendary fashion icon for decades, significantly impacting pop culture. The star has also been a part of numerous cult Hollywood movies like Top Gun, Reservoir Dogs, and The Wolf of Wall Street. Additionally, this star is a favorite among celebrities like Beyoncé, Bob Dylan, Brad Pitt, Natalie Portman, Hugh Jackman, Kanye West, and many more.

Still no idea? Okay, I’m talking about Ray-Ban. You weren’t expecting this, were you? Now you might be wondering why I am talking about Ray-Ban in a tech blog. Well, this is because a collaboration happened between Facebook and Ray-Ban. Say WHAAAAAT!

Move aside; there’s a new ‘it’ couple in town.

Facebook finally launched its long-awaited smart glasses and entered the nascent wearables market, which, let’s admit, was born from Google Glasses’ failed experiment. Another reason for the launch is that Facebook wanted a bite of the cake going Snap Spectacles’ way.

However, that’s where the commonalities end. Facebook’s smart glasses are focused on capturing images and videos, unlike Snap Spectacles’ focus on AR. They also decided to play it safe with the name and dubbed them as ‘Ray-Ban Stories’ (Yawn).

How are these smart glasses described? These glasses provide you with a new way of capturing videos and photos of your adventures, listening to music, or answering phone calls (but don’t we already have something for that? 😕).

Now, let’s get to the exciting part — the features. Well, firstly, they come with a whopping 5MP camera (are we back in 2012?). You can use this to capture pictures or even 30-second videos. A good part about this feature in the glasses is that an LED light pops up when you click a photo or shoot a video, letting people around you know.

Additionally, these smart glasses come equipped with open-ear speakers and a microphone to enhance the listening and calling experience. Despite the throwback, these glasses do have an interesting aspect. You want to charge them? Just put them back in the case, and voila, they’re charged!

Now you might be wondering how do I transfer the photos and videos I have taken? It’s a seamless process made easy with the Facebook View app. This app allows you to import, edit, and share videos and pictures on various social media platforms. You can even save them to your phone’s gallery and edit them as you please. The Facebook View app also comes with an exciting post-capture enhancement feature, which lets you add a unique spin to your content.

Facebook’s privacy issues get murkier with Ray-Ban Stories

At the cursory first glance, recording with these glasses does not seem different from recording with your smartphone. But as you think about it, your perspective might just take a 180° turn (like mine did).

With this innovation, Facebook is essentially claiming your face for its benefit and technology. The Facebook View app might be considered to be a ‘safe space’. But for how long? You would end up sharing content on that app with other Facebook apps, and we all know how those ‘privacy policies’ work. In fact, people wearing these glasses might be subject to greater surveillance.

This also raises questions on the privacy of unsuspecting people. Despite the LED light popping up while snapping and recording, it’s not visible to people at a distance, making them susceptible targets. What a person might do with such a recording is anyone’s guess.

What does the future hold for Ray-Ban Stories?

Facebook launched these glasses quite shrewdly. Nowhere on the branding or packaging does it mention Facebook. It’s even absent from the name of the product. So why did they do this? Well, there are so many reasons for it. Poor brand image, poor reputation in the press, massive distrust among Internet users; need I go on? This move may just work in their favor, even though the product itself is likely to have its detractors.

This heralds Facebook’s first proper move into the hardware sphere that utilizes both backend software and smartphones, and that’s crystal clear. This is because there are just five rules that users have to abide by and a very annoying terms of service. Assuming people will actually comply with the rules is either stupid, naive, or optimistic (your call).

Unfortunately, with this launch, we can add fashion accessories to the growing list of items that now come with terms of service (see what things have come to! We buy products, yet we cannot experiment with the software behind it 😢)

Ray-Ban Stories and the Metaverse

I cannot shake a couple of thoughts that’s been gnawing at me since I found out about Ray-Ban Stories. First, are the launch of this product and the ones to come in the near future, all a desperate ploy to make Zuckerberg’s Metaverse a reality? And if the Metaverse does become a reality, does Zuckerberg think it’ll help improve the public’s opinion of Facebook and him?

For the uninitiated, Zuckerberg defines the Metaverse as “a virtual environment where you can be present with people in digital spaces. It’s an embodied Internet that you’re inside of rather than just looking at.”

I wish I could predict if the Metaverse does become a reality, But, unfortunately, I’m no Nostradamus, Stephen Strange, or Sybil Trelawney (Would’ve been cool to be Stephen Strange, though).

So, until any significant news on the Metaverse, like Walt Whitman, I’ll sit and look out.

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