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Ray-Ban smart glasses bridge technology-fashion divide

The first generation of Ray-Ban smart glasses from the highly anticipated EssilorLuxottica-Facebook collaboration have been unveiled and are now available in Australia with a $449 price tag.

The new eyewear – called Ray-Ban Stories – has been described as a new way for people to seamlessly capture, share and listen, in an announcement by Facebook founder Mr Mark Zuckerberg and EssilorLuxottica’s chief wearables officer Mr Rocco Basilico on 10 September.

Facebook is the latest tech company to enter the smart glasses race, following competitors like Google and the firm behind Snapchat, which have generated mixed results. The social media giant is now predicting that camera technology will become a standard eyewear feature within the next decade.

“We are incredibly proud to bring Ray-Ban Stories to life with our partners at Facebook,” Basilico said.

“This is a milestone product that proves consumers don’t have to choose between technology and fashion – they can live in the moment and stay connected while wearing their favourite style of Ray-Bans. Our unique approach, combining decades of superior craftsmanship, a dedicated spirit of innovation and a commitment to delivering only cutting-edge technology has resulted in a wearable that people will truly love wearing.”

 

Ray-Ban Stories Wayfarer – shiny black with blue light filter lenses.

EssilorLuxottica, Ray-Ban’s parent company, and Facebook have chosen the brand’s most recognisable style – Wayfarer and Wayfarer Large – to lead the product line up.

They are also available in various other styles such as the legendary, retro Round and the Meteor. Starting at AU$449, wearers can also choose a range of lens styles, including sun, prescription, polarised, gradient, Transitions and clear.

Facebook and EssilorLuxottica stated they have engineered smart technology to support all-day wear, including an optimised Snapdragon processor, without compromising style, comfort, and aesthetic.

Importantly, the companies have kept the eyewear lightweight – a common drawback of smart glass designs – with the Wayfarer styles just 5g more than a standard pair.

Ray-Ban Stories also include a dual integrated 5-megapixel camera to capture photo and video; discreet open-ear speakers, and a three-microphone audio array to deliver rich voice and sound transmission for calls and videos.

Additionally, Ray-Ban Stories has a companion app, Facebook View (iOS and Android), in what the companies say is an easy way to import, edit, and share content captured on the smart glasses with the ability to upload on any social app stored on a phone: Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, and more.

“Ray-Ban Stories is designed to help people live in the moment and stay connected to the people they are with and the people they wish they were with,” Mr Andrew Bosworth, vice president of Facebook Reality Labs, said.

“EssilorLuxottica has been nothing short of stellar in this partnership and through their commitment to excellence we were able to deliver on both style and substance in a way that will redefine the expectations of smart glasses. We’re introducing an entirely new way for people to stay connected to the world around them and truly be present in life’s most important moments, and to look good while doing it.”

In his podcast following the launch, Mr Andrew Bosworth, who runs the Facebook’s hardware business, added that the ability to take pictures would be a standard feature for glasses within a decade.

“I think in 10 years it’ll be like, ‘Of course. Why don’t your glasses take pictures? That’s just weird,’” Bosworth said. “It really has that opportunity to turn the corner on that and move things forward.”

Ray-Ban Stories is available at Ray-Ban stores and Ray-Ban.com from September 10 in Australia. On September 13 they will also be available at select OPSM and Sunglass Hut stores (where not in lockdown).

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