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Facebook sees potential of smart glasses in Ray-Ban deal

The classic Ray-Ban Wayfarers get a high-tech update

Facebook has picked up the smart glasses baton from Snapchat Spectacles and the ill-fated Google Glass with the launch of designer specs designed to bring your feed closer to your face than ever before.

Not happy with just taking over your phone and computer, Facebook is making a play for your head with stylish tech that enables you to listen to podcasts and interact with a voice assistant without lifting a finger.

The Ray-Ban branded eyewear differentiates itself from normal glasses with the deft miniaturization of a microphone and speaker within the frame, ensuring that the wearer can juggle their online and real lives with ease.

Confusingly referred to as Stories, an apparent reference to the strings of pictures, videos and posts pioneered by Snapchat, the fashionable tech accessory has been fashioned from the frames of Ray-Ban’s classic Wayfarer design, with Facebook determining that Ray-Ban carries greater social cachet these days as it struggles to shake widespread privacy fears.

Lauding the $299 device, Monisha Perkash, product lead at Facebook’s Reality Labs division, said: “Our mission is to help build tools that will help people feel connected any time, anywhere. We want to create a sense of social presence, the feeling that you’re right there with another person sharing the same space, regardless of physical distance.”

Not happy with kickstarting the virtual reality segment with the Oculus Quest, Facebook clearly has its eyes on augmented reality (AI), the long-dreamed-of goal of fusing digital and real-world environments, with Stories being a stepping stone in that direction.

Taking advantage of advancements in miniaturization, Facebook has been able to cram a wealth of technology into a frame that is only a few millimeters thicker and five grams heavier than a standard pair of Wayfarers.

This includes dual cameras capable of capturing 5 megapixel images, short 30-second video clips, open ear speakers and a microphone for audio.

Mindful of the potential privacy implications of this arrangement, Facebook has built in fail-safe measures such as an automatic power off of cameras and microphone when not in use and a hardwired LED to notify people in your vicinity when recording.