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In New Partnership, Facebook Adds Tech to Ray-Bans

$299 smart glasses can make phone calls, take video
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 9, 2021 4:50 PM CDT
Facebook Takes a Partner in Smart Glasses Project
This photo provided by Facebook shows its Ray-Ban internet-connected smart glasses.   (Facebook via AP)

(Newser) – Seven years after Google Glass, and five years after Snap rolled out Spectacles, another tech giant is trying its hand at internet-connected smart glasses—hoping that this time around people will actually wear them. But Facebook's previous forays into hardware were met with lukewarm enthusiasm at best, and it's not clear if people will wear connected virtual or augmented reality eyewear not meant for gaming, the AP reports. Looking for a boost, Facebook is putting its tech in Ray-Bans in a partnership with the European company EssilorLuxottica. On Thursday, the companies unveiled Ray-Ban Stories—connected eyewear with built-in speakers and a microphone for making calls, a companion app that isn't Facebook, and a charging case.

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The spectacles cost $299 and are available in the US, UK, Canada, Italy, Ireland, and Australia. In a blog post, Facebook said the glasses let people "capture life's spontaneous moments as they happen from a unique first-person perspective," as well as listen to music, talk to people, and, using the Facebook View app, share photos and videos on social media. The glasses are the first version of what's likely to be more wearable gadgets as the social media giant looks for platforms beyond smartphones. Ray-Ban Stories come out of Facebook Reality Labs, which also oversees the Oculus virtual reality headset and the Portal video calling gadget.

Anticipating privacy concerns, Facebook said that by default the glasses "collect data that's needed to make your glasses work and function, like your battery status to alert you when your battery is low, your email address and password for your Facebook login to verify it's really you when you log into the Facebook View app." Users can take photos and videos using the glasses, per the AP, but they can't post directly to Facebook or any other social media platform. That's where the separate View app comes in. Convincing social media users that they need to wear an "all-day" connected device on their face may prove a struggle even for Facebook. (Movie theaters banned wearable tech.)

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