Smart phones, smart watches, smart doorbells . . . and now smart glasses. Facebook and Ray-Ban maker EssilorLuxottica partnered to create the new smart device. It’s a step toward Facebook’s aim of offering true augmented-reality (AR) spectacles.
Wearers can listen to music, take calls, or capture photos and short videos through the glasses. They can then share those photos and videos using an app. The glasses, called “Ray-Ban Stories,” start at $299. Despite the two cameras, speakers, microphones, processor, touchpad, battery, and more squeezed into the frames, the smart glasses weigh only about five grams (the weight of a nickel) more than Rayban’s ordinary design.
Hands full? The glasses include voice command options. For everyone’s comfort, an LED light on the glasses shows when the camera is on. That way others can tell when a wearer is taking a photo or video.
The social media giant has invested heavily in virtual and augmented reality. (See Facebook Reality: Real or Virtual?) Tech firms including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Apple raced to develop smart glasses products. But the high price points and design issues of early offerings like Google Glass deterred consumers.
Facebook’s chief scientist said last year the company was five to 10 years away from bringing “true” AR glasses to market. Augmented reality overlays visual, auditory, or other sensory information or objects onto the real world.
AR is already in use in some applications. For example, doctors may use AR to show where veins or organs are in a patient’s body. Home Depot’s app allows shoppers to see how furniture looks in their homes—before they buy. Popular face filters add dog ears or colorful hair for a silly selfie. But putting that tech in glasses, rather than a smart phone, is a tougher endeavor.
Skeptics point out Facebook’s sketchy track record on privacy. The company says it won’t access the media used by its smart-glasses customers without their consent or use the content for personalizing ads.
Facebook touts the glasses as a way to stay connected to others.
“Ray-Ban Stories is an important step into the future when phones are no longer a central part of our lives,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg says. “You won’t have to choose between interacting with a device or interacting with the world around you.”
Smart glasses could be a helpful tool, but it’s important to remember that Facebook benefits from our continual use of their products. While humans need to connect with others, (Genesis 2:18) social media isn’t always the best way to do it. In-person interaction is irreplaceable.
Why? As innovators create new technology, we must consider how best to use it. Smart glasses could be a valuable tool—or another distraction from our physical and spiritual reality.
Pray: For the ability to use technology responsibly, wisely, and to God’s glory.