Facebook’s New Ray-Bans Stories–Success or Fail?
We all remember when Google launched their smart glasses around 2014–and it didn’t quite take off as planned. So Facebook’s recent smart glasses launch, with the help of popular sunglasses vendor, Ray-Bans, has left us asking the question, will Facebook do what Google could not?
The smart glasses are called Ray-Ban Stories. Though “Facebook” is not in the product name, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook played a huge role in the creation of the product, along with Rocco Bsilico, Chief Wearables Officer at EssilorLuxottica. The glasses themselves are designed with Ray-Bans branding, which is a very popular brand of EssilorLuxottica.
The Ray-Bans website describes the product as its “first generation of smart sunglasses and eyeglasses that keeps you connected. So you can keep your eyes on the world around you.” The glasses have smart capabilities such as taking hands-free photos and videos, listening to music, and even taking calls. They use both touch and voice control to function. These functions serve the purpose of giving the user more time to look up and be in the moment versus looking down at their phone. And, of course, the glasses integrate smoothly with Facebook apps to upload photos and videos easily from the glasses to your social media account.
The glasses come in 3 frame styles and 6 “timeless” color combinations between the frames and lenses. They come with a charging case to ensure that the glasses will be charged and ready for everyday use. The glasses start at $299, with options to upgrade to prescription lenses.
As with any innovative product, there have been some concerns thrown around about the Ray-Ban Stories. Why did Google’s smart glasses launch fail? Will the same happen to Facebook? And, do these glasses disregard privacy to any extent?
There are many opinions and possible reasons why Google’s smart glasses, Google Glass, failed. One reason is that Google Glass products did not look fashionable or similar to popular, everyday sunglasses styles. The glasses were not comfortable nor practical to wear around. Another reason that Google Glass is thought to have failed is that the product launched before it was fully ready, not truly addressing consumer demands or concerns, and instead with the assumption that the product would “sell itself”. On top of this, Google Glass had an extremely high price point that just wasn’t realistic for the average consumer.
It seems that Ray-Bans Stories have already surpassed Google Glass in these areas–they are much more aligned with today’s popular styles, and they seem to have clear benefits to users–to stay more connected and be immersed in the moment, to put it simply.
As for privacy concerns, the main issue is the concern of the built-in cameras… are they hidden from others? Will people be recorded without knowing? To address and prevent this issue, the glasses are built to have a red LED light that turns on when the glasses are recording. This way, others will be aware that the device is turned on and recording. Personally, I am curious to see if this small red light is enough and if complaints begin to pop up by passersby of Ray-Bans Stories wearers.
It will be extremely interesting to see how this new product launch plays out. Will this be the new must-have in wearables, or will Facebook face similar backlash to Google? With a more reasonable price point, more stylish look, and better marketing, I have hope that Ray-Bans Stories could take off!