Just hours after an early leak via Twitter, Facebook and Ray-Ban have officially released their new wearable collaboration.
As we surmised, based on the leaked packaging, the device is called Stories.
The smartglasses come in black, blue, and brown, with the option of outfitting the lenses with dark grey, polarized dark blue, brown, green, clear, and clear with a blue light filter. You can also order the smartglasses with prescription lenses. The frame styles come in Ray-Ban's classic Wayfarer frame, as well as two other styles called Round and Meteor.
As shown in the initial leaked images, the smartglasses are equipped with two cameras, but we now know that each is a 5-megapixel camera. The quality of the photos are high-resolution at 2592 x 1944 pixels, while the video resolution is 1184 x 1184 pixels, recording at 30 frames per second.
Using those tiny cameras, you can record either 30 videos or 500 videos, and use the new Facebook View companion app, for both iOS and Android, to share them on Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, or save them to your smartphone's photo roll.
In terms of interface, you can tap the button on the top of the right arm of the glasses frame to take a photo, or hold it down to record video. You can also say, "Hey Facebook, take a video" to start recording. The device's open-ear speakers allow the user to take calls or listen to music and control those experiences via a touch/swipe interface on the side of the frame's arm. This is all powered by internal batteries that are charged via an included USB-C charging cable.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Ray-Ban's chief wearables officer, Rocco Basilico, appeared in a pre-produced video together to introduce the device on Thursday. "We believe that this is an important step on the road to developing the ultimate augmented reality glasses," said Zuckerberg.
In many ways, Facebook's Ray-Ban Stories device is basically a throwback to the device Snap introduced way back in 2016. In fact, it looks like Facebook basically used Snap's entire playbook, even down to including a front-facing LED indicator light on the frames to let people known that you're taking a photo or a video.
However, unlike Snap's Spectacles, Facebook has also included a hard "on/off" switch on the device, which may go a long way toward those who may be wary of introducing a potentially "always listening, always watching" wearable into their home.
Additionally, although most of this is duplicating Snap's past wearables efforts, in fairness, Stories also includes an audio component, which really makes this device more like a combination of Snap's Spectacles and Amazon's Echo Frames. And the addition of voice control in Stories, via Facebook Assistant, moves the wearable closer toward the ideal vision of future AR smartglasses that are embedded with a virtual assistant.
As Zuckerberg said, the launch of Ray-Ban Stories is basically step number one of Facebook's journey toward augmented reality smartglasses. And while much of what Facebook has launched with Stories isn't really breaking new ground, the masterstroke here is the collaboration with a major luxury eyewear brand at launch. That Ray-Ban branding combination alone could be the key to getting Facebook's first wearable into mainstream territory.
Prices for Ray-Ban Stories start at $299 and go up to $459, depending on the color and lens combinations you select. For now, the smartglasses will only be available in the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, Italy, and Australia.