The greatly anticipated and highly controversial Smart Glasses from Facebook have finally launched. Whether this technology offers a captivating new way of capturing photos or a potential mass breach of individual rights to privacy remains to be seen, but what is for certain is that Santa Claus is going to be seeing a LOT of these appearing on Christmas lists this year.
What Are Smart Glasses?
Facebook’s latest high-tech offering is glasses that allow wearers to take photos and videos of what they see, listen to music, and even make and receive phone calls. Bluetooth, speakers, and a microphone are all in-built components. Features are activated either by pressing a discreet button on the glasses’ arm or via voice command.
Smart Glasses are available in twenty styles, so if the wearer wants a pair of classic Ray-Bans, like the ever-popular Wayfarer design, or requires prescription lenses, then there are these options available. There are five frame colors to choose from, too, as well as a choice of clear, sun, or transition options. Facebook has partnered with Ray-Ban to create the Smart Glasses, and the fusion of classic styling with cutting-edge tech is a testament to the success of this partnership.
What’s the Controversy?
There are fears that Smart Glasses will promote a further erosion of privacy, with images able to be captured of people without their knowledge, let alone their consent. The team behind the glasses has tried to address this by incorporating a flashing red LED light into the frames to signal to others that either a photo is being captured or a video shot, but, for many, this goes nowhere near far enough.
There have also been concerns raised about what is claimed to be the inevitability of facial recognition software eventually being incorporated into the glasses; those who are worried suggest that as well as being problematic in terms of privacy, this could also be dangerous in stalking cases. There are calls for an override option to protect potentially vulnerable individuals. Anxieties about whether the technology could also be used, in time, for general surveillance of the population are very much in evidence too.
So What’s Great About Augmented Reality Glasses?
Facebook’s Smart Glasses are a major step to true augmented reality devices (AR) that will have the potential to totally transform our interactions with the world around us. As they stand right now, Smart Glasses are a fabulously useful tool for merging the tech we use on a daily basis seamlessly into our lives. They deliver both convenience and style, too, and, by synching with something we’re going to be wearing anyway, help to streamline the…stuff in our busy lives.
These glasses will work for around six hours of continuous use, feature a Facebook voice assistant, and can store five hundred photos. They come complete with a charging case, and wearers will need to input their log-in and password details every time they’re used.
Their true benefits, however, will be found in future developments; Facebook teams are already working on a version of AR glasses that will help those with visual impairments to be able to see the world around them more clearly.
How Much Do They Cost?
Smart Glasses are currently available to purchase online and in-store in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and Italy.
Designs start at around the $299 mark. So, kids: you better have been VERY good this year if these are going on your Christmas list.
Are Smart Glasses a Fad or Forever?
The fate of previous attempts to bring glasses incorporating tech to market has not fared particularly well. Google unveiled their version of Smart Glasses in 2012 but, despite positive reviews, they were pulled just three years later. There has been speculation that the lack of consumer support for this product was partly down to the technology simply not being as relevant nearly ten years ago as well as long-standing privacy concerns – the same ones that are appearing again concerning Smart Glasses. And the aesthetics of Google’s product just can’t be ignored, either: they just didn’t look great.
Facebook’s attempt at the market may very well have a different outcome, however. Technological advances, and the prevalence of mobile apps, mean that the usefulness of a hands-free device is greater than ever before. Facebook, too, have astutely integrated a feature into their Smart Glasses, which allows the wearer to share photos and videos straight to their social media.
Finally, not only do Smart Glasses feature beautiful, contemporary design, but they’re available with a prescription, clear, sun, and transition lenses, too.
Do be aware, however, that this product is not waterproof at all, and so shouldn’t be worn in the rain, and need to be removed at the first hint of an oncoming shower.
Smart Glasses’ Festive Forecast
Facebook’s Smart Glasses will inevitably be found under a lot of Christmas trees this year, despite fears of where this technology is taking us in terms of surveillance and general principles of privacy. The beauty of this innovative and stylish bit of tech is that it’s not a gimmick: it has real-world practical application that can genuinely make our hectic lives run that little bit smoother. And they’re fun, too. Because who hasn’t ever dreamed of sci-fi-style, pressing your finger to the side of your glasses and whispering ‘activate….’
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