Facebook’s first glasses pave the way for public AR

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The Ray-Ban Stories are $ 299 sunglasses powered by Facebook technology that can capture the wearer’s point of view for up to 30 seconds at a time. They also take calls and stream music from your phone.

When the Stories run out of power or off, they’re just regular Ray-Ban sunglasses that look pretty good on everyone. But when used, they help shape Facebook’s future stages in AR and VR.

Here is my visual report testing this new material.

Facebook view


You need the Facebook View app to access the super-stabilized wide-angle captures from Ray-Ban Stories.

The base model’s sunglasses start at $ 299 – Facebook sent in a free pair to try. You need to login with your Facebook account, then when you turn on the switch and say “Hey Facebook take a video” or “Hey Facebook take a photo”, it captures your point of view. Videos are limited to 30 seconds and the glasses overheated after recording multiple videos in a row on a hot summer day.

Catches can look pretty special at the right time:

Lights and audio

There are two LEDs – one inward and one outward – which light up with a beep to start recording.

You can adjust the beep volume but you can’t turn it off, and you can’t use the settings to turn off the lights.

It comes with a charging case to store the glasses and charge their battery, similar to Apple’s AirPods. Captures can also be initiated via a button on the upper right arm – long press to take a photo or short press to capture a video. The wake word activated Facebook voice assistant can be deactivated in the app settings.

A new kind of photography

I wanted to get my hands on Google Glass and Snap’s glasses for exactly this first-person capture feature, but never found the time or money to make it happen. This feature has to be tried in a personal setting to see any value, and the Ray-Ban Stories are the first smart glasses I have used this way.

A perspective camera provides a personalized view that is typically only visible with GoPro’s or in highly produced commercials and movies. Ray-Ban Stories does away with most of that overhead and offers a one-press eye-level camera built into the frames of a familiar accessory. While the glasses can also play music streamed from your phone and answer calls with its array of microphones, the real reason to think about getting them is to capture those moments in first person.

Video marketing agencies typically shoot commercials shot with expensive stabilized cameras and apply heavy editing to produce similar perspectives in first person, with actors breaking down the fourth wall to speak directly to the audience. Some readers will also remember science fiction with similar technology, like 1995’s Strange Days or Black Mirror episodes. With these glasses, Facebook made me produce similar content through my eyes for people who know or follow me.

VR / AR field test – Post-Phones?

Do people really say “Hey Facebook, take a video” in public?

I left the glasses in my car at little league baseball diamonds because it didn’t seem appropriate to use them in that context. Getting up from my lawn chair to point my phone very obviously at my own child is very different from staring in one direction for 30 seconds while wearing a dark pair of sunglasses that shed white light. My mom wanted to see the glasses so we ended up taking them out to show her how they worked and we took some pictures to demonstrate. She was impressed that they looked like normal sunglasses.

Coming back to the car after a little championship game with the setting sun casting a beautiful golden light over large open fields, I couldn’t help but think that this would make a pretty cool setting for the Space Pirate Trainer DX arena mode. on Oculus Quest and thought about saying “Hey Facebook is taking a video. In that context, verbally invoking Facebook seemed out of place compared to pressing the button. I didn’t pay attention at the time, but listened to it again. In the video, you can hear short snippets of conversations from other families as we walk past them loading into their cars.

At the end of 2020, Facebook shared some of its cutting edge research on “improved” hearing and discussed social norms that could be affected. And here I am, about a year later, walking the baseball diamonds and testing social norms with this new mode of capture.

The act of framing a photo is something that the photographer and the subject usually have a say in. There may be a pose preparation ritual when you know a nearby capture is about to take place. You can stand up and smile, or try to stay away from the photo in some cases. If you weren’t the intended subject, you might even choose your moment to photo-bomb.

As a body-worn camera, Ray-Ban Stories almost completely erases the pose and framing of the photograph. Now the wearer frames the whole world with snippets from their point of view, which means picking the good times to record or making the good times happen.

Additional permissions

In the configuration of the Facebook View app, a dialog explained the optional data sharing with “the time spent taking videos”, “the average duration of the videos captured” and “the number of images captured” as examples. of what is collected. This information could help paint a picture of the battery and storage requirements needed in future designs.

When asked if additional orders will be supported with “Hey Facebook”, one rep wrote “we have an exciting track record” and answered “not at this time” when asked if the glasses will support other assistants personal with other wake-up words like “Hey Siri” or “Ok Google”.

Paving the way for public VR / AR

Facebook primarily uses the Ray-Ban brand to explore both how Facebook Reality Labs technology will be used by individuals and how companies will respond to the presence of citizen-worn cameras always ready to record. They’re testing battery, heat, and storage requirements which will be key information for the design of future AR glasses, but Ray-Ban Stories is testing other things as well.

Space Pirate Trainer DX and its arena mode were released on Oculus Quest the same day Facebook announced the Ray-Ban glasses. Both efforts will send people who have purchased Facebook-powered material into the physical world explaining what computerized glasses can do in this decade. And in the case of Ray-Ban, if people reject the use of the camera, it won’t necessarily be the Facebook brand that takes the criticism.

Many people will soon start to see how much better computerized glasses are in the 1920s. If your last smart glasses demo was by the name of Google, like Cardboard, Glass or Daydream, you will have an eye-opening experience capturing your point of view with sunglasses or when stepping into an Oculus Quest 2.

The Gear VR of glasses?

Facebook is trying and messing around with the Gear VR, Rift, and Oculus Go headsets to focus on the Oculus Quest standalone VR product. Gear VR was interesting, but Quest is the product that people buy and use in a meaningful way.

Ray-Ban Stories could be considered the Gear VR of smart glasses.

This is a consumer product powered by Facebook technology that does not carry the Facebook brand or name, and it lacks a key feature that arguably denies it the right to fit even into the product category. that he aspires to help define. While a display is (perhaps) a bigger omission in Ray-Ban Stories than the 6DoF tracking was from Gear VR, the Ray-Bans are also self-contained with a portable charging case and function as the perfect sunglasses. when “smart” features are not needed. Gear VR was just a piece of plastic collecting dust when not in use, draining a phone’s battery.

Metaverse

Ray-Ban stories aren’t even very “smart,” at least not yet.

From a software perspective, they’re testing how much people want a perspective capture at eye level. And they’re another avenue for Facebook to develop a personal assistant to compete with those of other big tech companies.

From a hardware standpoint, these glasses represent a North Star for Facebook to follow in any AR glasses it plans to launch in the future.

At one point, when I wasn’t wearing Ray-Ban Stories, I was like “Hey Facebook, take a video”. Are we heading towards a future where I can just think of an order and make the glasses respond as expected?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the Ray-Ban Stories are “an important step towards a future where phones are no longer a central part of our lives.”

How exactly does this future work? Are glasses becoming an accessory to your phone or a replacement?

The task of future Facebook CTO, Andrew Bosworth, will be to launch new laptops while supporting the development of technologies that will define exactly how these things work in the so-called “metaverse” – whatever that actually means.



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