Meta unveiled the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses today at its Meta Connect event in its continuing quest to blend optical fashion with technology.
These smart glasses shouldn’t be mistaken for augmented reality glasses, as they have limited functionality. The lenses are ordinary, and all you can do with them is record video, take snapshots, answer phone calls and play music. You can also livestream with them. I tried out the glasses at a Meta press briefing, and they worked well.
However, in an update next year, the glasses will get a nifty feature as an update. You will be able to ask questions of the AI via voice, like “What am I looking at?” And it will come back with a voice answer in your ears with the answer to your question.
The overall idea for the glasses is to enable you to capture life’s best moments with an upgraded 12-megapixel camera and five-mic system. You can livestream your view of life’s best moments to Instagram and Facebook. You can stay connected with hands-free calls and messages and listen to your favorite tracks through built-in speakers. And you can do all that while keeping your smartphone in your pocket.
GamesBeat Next 2023
Join the GamesBeat community in San Francisco this October 24-25. You’ll hear from the brightest minds within the gaming industry on latest developments and their take on the future of gaming.
The AI update part is a surprise to me, as the smart glasses will let you verbally ask the AI questions that it can answer with text answers on the glasses, when available next year.
“You can get hands-free AI wherever you go,” said Mark Zuckerberg on stage at Meta Connect.
Next year, the glasses will be multimodal with an update, where it will tell you the name of a building if you ask Meta AI verbally what it is.
“I think the AI piece of this will be just as important as any of the augmented reality features,” he said.
That’s in the future. Meanwhile, the glasses are arriving on the market on October 17.
The previous generation
Meta’s previous smart glasses were the Ray-Ban Stories, built as a collaboration with EssilorLuxottica, the owner of the Ray-Ban brand. Announced in August 2020, the glasses debuted in September 2021.
The device had small red light indicating that the users was recording what they were seeing, and that led to some controversy about privacy invasion. In the new model, there is a brighter white light that you can see from the corner of your eye on the frame. That tells you that you are recording, and people you are talking to should be able to see that too, though it isn’t as obvious as a bright red light.
Rivals at the time included Snap’s smart glasses, as well as the more advanced AR glasses from companies such as Nreal (now Xreal).
But Meta’s glasses were merely smart, able to record video and play music. But they did not have augmented reality lenses, where you can look through the lenses and see a combination of physical reality and 3D-animated overlays.
As noted, these new glasses still don’t have AR lenses, and so Meta is careful not to call them AR glasses.
The smart glasses collection
There will be a wide variety of Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses in the form of a collection, available for preorder now from Meta.com and Ray-Ban.com. They will be available for purchase on October 17 from from Meta.com, Ray-Ban stores, LensCrafters, Amazon, Best Buy and more.
The glasses will be available in the following markets: U.S., Canada, UK, Ireland, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Australia, Germany, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden. The starting price is $299 for the standard lens, with polarized lenses starting at $329. Transitions lenses start at $379 and prescription lenses will vary in price.
Stylish design: Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses will come in the classic Wayfarer design (standard and large sizes), and a new Headliner style. The collection will be available in a range of new colors, including transparent, which offers a glimpse of the technology packed inside the glasses, and lens options, such as sun, polarized, clear, Transitions, and prescription. You’ll also be able to mix and match the frame & lens combo on the Ray-Ban remix platform so you can make it your own. There will be over 150 variations – something for everyone, said Li-Chen Miller, vice president of smart glasses, in a press briefing.
Capture: You can capture with the ultra-wide 12 MP camera and five-mic system. Take high-quality photos and 1080p videos, and livestream to Facebook and Instagram. It’s like a GoPro camera without the camera. You can livestream for about 30 minutes before the battery runs out.
There’s a button on the top of the right temporal arm. If you press it once with your finger, you can take a picture. If you hold it down and then release it, you can start recording a video. I recorded a video of a grassy landscape and it came out pretty good. You’re not likely to record or take a picture by accident, but you might very well forget that you’re recording a video. You can quickly transfer the video and pictures to your smartphone using the local Wi-Fi network.
Audio: The open ear speakers, which are 50% louder than the previous Ray-Ban Stories, deliver greater clarity, deeper bass and directional audio for less audio leak, which gives you a rich listening experience
even in noisy or windy environments – so you can listen to your favorite tunes or take calls. Miller said it has a universal nose fit.
Miller noted that someone next to you can’t hear your open-ear audio. I tried this out and I could hear the audio loud and clear, but the person next to me couldn’t hear them at all. That was pretty interesting given I didn’t have any ear buds. The microphones take the form of little holes in different parts of the frame. I turned on Spotify on a phone and played it so I could hear it. You can turn the volume up or down by swiping on the side of the glasses frame.
Companion App: You can edit and enhance everyday memories captured on Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses
using the Meta View companion app and share them one-off with family and friends, or across
the Facebook family of apps.
Charging Case: A redesigned brown charging case mimics the classic Ray-Ban case from before. But it’s 32% lighter so you can easily fit it into your bag or carry-on and take it with you on the go. The charging case helps preserve and extend the battery life of your glasses while you’re on the go, and gives you up to eight additional charges for an additional 32 hours of battery life.
Overall, the glasses have 21 different versions and can be ordered with prescription lenses. The Wayfarer weighs about 48.6 grams, the large Wayfarer weighs 50.8 grams and the headliner weighs 49.2 grams.
The camera has a default capture in portrait mode of 3024 x 4032 pixels, and videos are captured at 1080p and 30 frames per second (1440 x 1920 resolution).
It can connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth 5.3 or Wi-Fi6. It has 32GB of storage, capable of storing up to 500 photos, and 100 30-second videos. And it’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon AR1 Gen 1 Platform. The rechargeable smart glasses last for up to four hours on a single battery charge. It takes 75 minutes in a charging case to get a full charge. They’re intended for people 13 and up.
GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Discover our Briefings.