Even Mark Zuckerberg’s video announcement that came along with the big tech giant’s first push into smart glasses was awkward. Admittedly, I was a bit baffled to learn that his latest invention with an eyewear style leader called Ray-Ban Stories didn’t have a display built into the lens.
What Ray-Ban Stories do have for a price tag of $299 are two barely noticeable 5 megapixel cameras on each side of the cool looking classic shades that can record video. Along with still shots, there’s 4 gigabytes of storage onboard that also captures the audio from an array of 3 hidden microphones.
How they work
Just say “Hey Facebook, Start a Video” or tap the discretely designed side button to begin recording a 30 second video clip. Recorded videos and stills are synced to Facebook View app on your phone where they can be shared.
Ray-Ban Stories come in 20 different styles including the Wayfarer style made popular when Tom Cruise slid across the floor into frame and into Hollywood fame. What these classic sunglasses turned spy glasses may earn instead is infamy.
Just on the other side of cool is the creep factor. Ray-Ban Stories inevitably pose a considerable threat to personal privacy and security. The tiny LED light meant to warn others that they are being recorded is barely noticeable and could easily be covered by someone who wants to disguise it.
Don’t get me wrong. Ray-Ban Stories work well and do exactly what Facebook wants them to do. When you have them in your hands and on your head, you may indeed want them. They are perfect for capturing the moment from what you are seeing much faster than grabbing your phone camera while trying not to miss the moment.
Aside from some self-imposed warnings almost like a cancer health alert on the side of a pack of cigarettes, there’s nothing to stop people from using these to spy on one another in ways few have imagined. The more popular these become, a day will likely come when you walk into a public restroom to find someone donning a pair staring back at you.
How would you feel when its your turn at your bank ATM seeing someone behind you wearing these as you enter your pin code to take your cash? Should people be able to record your kids without anyone knowing? What if someone tries to use the recorded video and audio against you?
Google Glass vs. Facebook Ray-Ban Stories
These concerns are the very reason smart glasses introduced by Google failed. The only difference is these are made to look like a classic pair of stylish sunglasses without tipping you off to the spy capabilities. Google Glass looked like geek glasses devoid of style and clever co-branding.
Facebook must have thought about that so they include numerous explanations about how what you record belongs to you unless you choose to share it with Facebook. Facebook telling me how they are focused on protecting my privacy while making billions of dollars off of harvesting personal data of people is laughable.
Even if they had credibility to be trusted with personal privacy, what I wonder more is if innovations like Facebook Ray-Ban Stories take us away from experiencing a moment in life with the distraction of acting like a stealthy spy.
Facebook Ray-Ban Stories are available online at retailers including Ray-Ban stores.