Facebook’s parent company Meta has been partnering with Ray-Ban to make smart glasses since 2021 (you know, before Facebook started calling itself Meta). But they’ve been a niche device that probably has limited appeal.
That… may or may not be about to change. Meta has unveiled a new version called Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses that are available for pre-order for $299 and up from Ray-Ban or Meta. They should be available beginning October 17th.
Meta says the new glasses bring better cameras, improved audio, an updated processor, and support for live streaming video (rather than just recording video to share later). And maybe one of the biggest selling points? Ray-Ban Glasses will be the first smart glasses that ship with Meta’s new AI capabilities built-in.
You can trigger Meta AI by saying “Hey Meta” to start a conversation with the company’s AI assistant using your voice. And next year Meta promises to add “multi-modal” AI feature that allow the AI to respond to information in your environment.
For example, you could look at a building and ask Meta AI what it is (hello Google Lens). Or ask it to translate a menu into a language you understand (like Google Translate). And perhaps most intriguing (because Google doesn’t really do this yet), you could look a broken sink faucet or something else and get step-by-step instructions on how to repair it while you work.
While introducing the new glasses today, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted that he had expected the killer app that would eventually make smart glasses and mixed-reality headsets like the Meta Quest 3 really take off would be holograms that can superimpose virtual objects on real-world environments. But that’s still very much a work-in-progress technology that has yet to really catch on.
He says the rapid advance of generative AI models, though, has presented a new opportunity for wearables that might be just as important. While you could theoretically do all of the things mentioned above with a phone or other devices, a wearable device like there smart glasses could make everything feel simpler and more natural than sticking a phone or VR headset between your face and the rest of the world.
Or you could just use the Ray-Ban Smart Glasses as wearable cameras. While the original Ray-Ban Stories glasses had dual 5MP cameras, the new ones have 12MP ultra-wide cameras for higher-quality photography, support for capturing up to 60 seconds of 1080p video at a time, saving photos or videos to your devices, sharing them with contacts, or live streaming video.
Meta says the new glasses also feature better audio with new speakers that are up to 50% louder and offer twice as much bass while also offering better support for directional audio, which means you should be able to hear phone calls, music, or other audio better even in noisy environments. The 5 built-in mics can also capture immersive audio when you’re recording videos.
The glasses are powered by Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon AR1 Gen 1 system-on-a-chip, and compared with the first-gen Ray-Ban Stories, the new glasses have more storage (32GB rather than 4GB), a lighter-weight design (133 grams rather than 195 grams), and IPX4 water water resistance. The Ray-Ban Smart Glasses also feature WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3, which is a step up from the WiFi 5/BT 5.0 support for the previous model.
Meta says you should be able to get “up to 36 hours” when using the glasses with a charging case that provides “up to eight additional charges,” suggesting that the glasses themselves should be good for around four hours of usage.