Facebook announces launch of Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses

Wayfarer-style specs feature pair of cameras for photos and videos, as well as a microphone and speaker

Facebook lives in your pocket, on the web, and, if you’ve bought the company’s Portal video-calling device, even in your kitchen. Now, it wants to find a home on your face. The company has created its first “smart glasses”, with a pair of cameras to take photos and videos, a microphone and speaker to listen to podcasts, and a voice assistant to let you do the whole thing hands-free.

If the whole thing sounds, and looks, familiar, it’s because the concept bears a heavy resemblance to Snapchat’s Spectacles, now in their third generation. It’s not the first time Facebook has been heavily inspired by the younger company, and even the name of the glasses feels sure to rub salt into the wound: they’ve been named Stories, apparently in homage to the social media format invented by the Snapchat founder, Evan Spiegel, and adopted to revolutionary effect by, first, Instagram, then countless other sites on the internet. There’s one final wrinkle to the pitch: the glasses don’t actually come from Facebook at all. Instead, the company is working with Ray-Ban, on whose classic Wayfarer designs the hardware has been modelled, and the device will be branded as a Ray-Ban product first and foremost.

“Our mission is to help build tools that will help people feel connected any time, anywhere,” said Facebook’s Monisha Perkash. “We want to create a sense of social presence, the feeling that you’re right there with another person sharing the same space, regardless of physical distance.” Perkash leads the product team at the company’s Reality Labs division, which has the ultimate goal of building true “augmented reality” glasses – devices that would deliver on the promise – which Google Glass failed to meet – of putting a digital layer over reality itself.

Ray-Ban Stories aren’t that, yet. Instead, Perkash said, “as we wait for the technology to be good enough, we’re focused on what we can enable right now. We’re delivering the first pair of smart glasses that blend form and function.”