First steps with Ray-Ban Stories, Meta’s first connected glasses

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Well, after Snapchat, it’s Meta’s turn to enter the world of connected glasses. With its Ray-Ban Stories, the American firm offers glasses that are interesting in shape, but with uses that are still somewhat limited.

Meta’s first pair of connected glasses is finally available in France. Co-developed with EssilorLuxottica, it is associated with one of the group’s most famous brands, Ray-Ban. More than six months after its launch in the United States, the product finally crosses the Atlantic. We had the opportunity to try a meteor model for a while, just to show you what life is like through our eyes (and the cameras in the branches).

Some (almost) classic glasses

Impossible not to talk about the design of these glasses, since it is above all an aesthetic object rather than a connected object. It’s clear that Meta has worked well on their product as these Stories almost look like a classic pair of Ray-Bans. In the case of our Meteors, the differences are very subtle compared to the normal version. The temples are 5mm longer, the width of the bridge varies by only one millimeter, and the height of the lens is less than 2mm. In terms of weight, the Ray-Ban Stories pair isn’t much heavier than a traditional frame. Thus, we weigh our pair of Meteor, which weighs 50.1 g when our daily pair of glasses weighs 22.4 g. A doubled weight that, however, is not felt even once in our nose.

Obviously, the presence of the two sensors on the right and left ears reveal the ability of these glasses to film or take a photo of what we have in front of us. But the two modules are generally relatively small and will be able to be inconspicuous from afar, especially with a dark-colored frame, like the brown model we received in the test. Let’s add that Ray-Ban Stories can be combined with prescription lenses, sunglasses or not.

Even the charging case looks a lot like the case that is normally supplied with a pair of glasses. A large leather covered lozenge box for storing/carrying Stories. the interior is lined with felt with a metal hinge: the premium effect is there. The only real differences between this case and a more classic one are the presence of a charging LED and a USB-C port. On the mount, a white LED alerts others when you’re taking a photo or video.

The white led indicator indicates the capture of a video or a photo.

The white led indicator indicates the capture of a video or a photo.

Let’s talk about autonomy, since compared to a classic pair, the Stories will have to be recharged from time to time. Autonomy can melt away pretty quickly if you ask too much of them or if you don’t think about severing the connection by bending the branches. Taking all the necessary precautions, the pair can last a day or two before having to be put back in its box. When the battery runs out, it takes about three hours for the case to fully charge the glasses.

The case includes two connectors that allow charging.

The case includes two connectors that allow charging.

An application, essential companion

To get your pair of Stories up and running, you’ll need to go through the Facebook View app. It goes without saying that you will be required to have a Facebook account in order to take advantage of the connected features of the glasses. First, the app allows you to import photos and videos captured with Stories. The glasses must be paired with your smartphone using the pair’s own wi-fi network. You can select the content you want to import into the app. So everything is saved there, as well as in the photo library of your smartphone.

Within Facebook View, it is possible to edit photos or video clips on the fly, but also to make video montages. When you choose up to 10, the application will take care of making a small montage, putting your choices afterwards. Then you are free to choose the transition effect you want. There is another creation available and it is called “Flashback”. This allows you to animate one of your photos, but not as a gif. It’s more of a camera-in-shot effect, a bit like doing a Travel Ahead or behind. It’s fun for five minutes, but it’s unlikely to appeal to most.

Finally, the application is essential to manage the different parameters of Ray-Ban Stories. It is through it that you will have to go to check the battery status, activate software updates or unpair the glasses. Activation of the voice assistant is also done directly in the application. For the French launch of the glasses, the latter has been updated to offer an assistant that speaks the language of Molière, two voices can be chosen. This assistant is activated by pressing the only button present on the right branch or by saying “Hello Facebook”. A confirmation sound of its activation can be configured.

interesting features

Meta glasses can capture photos or videos thanks to the two 5 megapixel modules included in the frame. The combination of the two allows you to get shots equivalent to an ultra wide angle module in a smartphone. But once your photos are imported into the app (we’ll come back to this), you’ll be under the impression that only the right sensor can capture the images. Captured photos are not of great quality, except to benefit from excellent brightness. For video, the pair of glasses allows you to capture short moments of up to 30 seconds. In the near future, this period will be extended to 60 seconds, which should allow slightly more advanced uses (TikTok, Insta Stories or even YouTube Shorts in line of sight).

Loudspeakers are housed in the branches that project sound directly into your ears. At low volume, those around you may not hear what you are listening to. On the other hand, exceed the median threshold and that can change quickly. For listening to music, this can be quite handy in a fairly quiet environment such as at home or in the office. But once outside, the two speakers are no match for a good pair of headphones. In fact, this addition will be very practical for making and receiving calls, with the audio quality being quite decent, such as that offered by the three microphones. The right branch also has a touch surface to control sound volume and music tracks. A slide allows you to manage the volume while a press pauses. A double tap will skip to the next track and a triple tap will skip to the previous track. A well thought out execution that allows you to get rid of your smartphone or the use of the dedicated voice assistant.

One of the two speakers present under the branches.

One of the two speakers present under the branches.

Precisely, this assistant (“Hey Facebook”) offers a small panel of possibilities. Play/pause music, capture a photo or video, volume up/down and… that’s it. Impossible to answer or hang up a call with the sound of your voice, launch an application or even dictate a message. To try to find out more about the various possibilities, we even tried: “Hey Facebook, what can you do?”. A question answered by the wizard: “Sorry, it’s beyond my capabilities right now”. It’s a bit embarrassing and really limits the interest of this voice assistant. However, it must be recognized that it is very reactive and can be triggered without having to raise your voice too much, as long as you are in a calm environment.

An update on confidentiality and privacy

Obviously, Meta delving into the world of connected glasses can raise big questions about privacy and respect for data. Within the application it is possible to manage the different information that you want to transmit to the company or even to the application itself. You can also choose whether or not to share information about the use of the glasses and the application to improve the experience. On the voice assistant side, the app can keep track of requests made, again with the goal of improving the experience, she says.

Please note that none of the data shared with Meta refers to your photos and videos. These contents remain on your phone or within the application and are in no way intended to be retrieved by the company. Unless you decide to share all of this on one of Meta’s social networks…

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