Facebook revives smartglasses | Sunday Observer

Facebook revives smartglasses

19 September, 2021

Last Thursday, Facebook, in association with Ray-Ban launched their first smartglasses, named Ray-Ban Stories.

Facebook’s latest project brought back the topic of smartglasses into the major discussion for the first time since Google’s controversial and aimless Google Glass almost a decade ago. Facebook’s primary purpose with the device is that of a wearable camera and audio player that connects to your phone and Facebook owned apps, like Whatsapp and Instagram.

Mark Zuckerburg, during the launch of the product described the Ray-Ban Stories as a combination of “the style you expect from Ray-Ban with as much technology as we could fit ‘’. However, though its scope is slightly smaller than the Google Glass, its launch resurfaced the same concerns of privacy that arise whenever new smartglasses are developed.

Even putting aside the Google Glass, there are far more smartglasses in the world than the average casual tech head may realise. The concept of wearable computers have been around for decades, though earlier designs were far less sleek. Inventor Morton Heilig’s Teleshpere Mask was patented in 1960 and was a working 3D video headset decades ahead of its time.

Since then, dozens of designs for wearable computers and smartglasses have been produced in various degrees of completion and availability. The closest approximation to the Ray-Ban Stories, were the Spectacles, developed by Snap Inc, the developers of SnapChat.


With the development of Google Glass, the first smartglasses to achieve mainstream attention, came several concerns. The primary concern was that of privacy. In addition to being able to surf the web, Google Glass’s most notable feature was its ability to take photos through either the touchpad on the sidearm of the device or through voice activation. As this meant that people could take videos and photos discreetly without the knowledge or consent of anyone in view, this raised questions about the ethics and etiquette of such a device.

The same question was directed at Facebook’s Ray-Ban Stories, as taking videos and photos was its primary feature. Facebook’s primary defense for privacy concerns is that it’s no different from what you can do with smartphones. In addition to this, a feature was mentioned during the device’s launch showcase itself, with a small white LED denoting when the device is in use. Zuckerburg himself said during the showcase, “That’s more than what smartphones do”. However, this seems to be just a minor consolation, as some don’t consider that enough and that the tiny light is easily missable especially in a public setting.

Most reactions to controversy are divided. While some are concerned about privacy, others are just excited for a commercially available pair of smartglasses that are more appealing than its competitors. In addition to being far more affordable compared to most smartglasses, the Ray-Ban Stories also have a more presentable design, actually looking like nice sunglasses thanks to the Ray-Ban design.

Google Glass wearers, dubbed “Glassholes”, were usually openly mocked online for looking stupid. However, it’s still far too early to tell what the clear consensus will be, but should the Ray-Ban Stories succeed, it could bring back smartglasses from the brink of extinction.