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Facebook to launch Ray-Ban smart glasses with built-in cameras

Facebook has unveiled a pair of smart glasses called 'Ray-Ban Stories' designed to give users of the social network new ways of capturing photos and video.

The firm built the device in partnership with sunglass designers EssilorLuxottica and they will start at $299 (£219) in select retail stores.

Facebook said the glasses have two integrated 5MP cameras that “let you capture life’s moments as they happen” from a first-person perspective.

Photos and videos up to 30-seconds long can be taken using the capture button or hands-free with Facebook Assistant voice commands.

In order to allay privacy concerns, the device includes a hard-wired capture LED that lights up to let people nearby know when media is being captured.

Open-ear speakers are also built in to the sunglasses, and a three-microphone audio array allows users to take calls on the device.

Facebook said it had included “beamforming technology” and a background noise suppression algorithm to provide the same calling experience you’d expect from dedicated headphones.

Ray-Ban Stories have been designed to pair with the new Facebook View app on iOS and Android that also makes it easy to import, edit and share content captured on the smart glasses to other apps including those from rival social networks like Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Snapchat.

The sunglasses are available in 20 variations in classic Ray-Ban styles - Wayfarer, Wayfarer Large, Round and Meteor - and five colours, with a range of lenses including clear, sun, transition and prescription.

Announcing the new hardware, Facebook acknowledged that privacy was a key issue it had looked to address when creating the new device.

“As with any new device, we have a big responsibility to help people feel comfortable and provide peace of mind and that goes not only for device owners but the people around them, too”, the social network said in a blog post.

“That’s why we baked privacy directly into the product design and functionality of the full experience, from the start.

“For example, we have hardware protections like a power switch to turn off the cameras and microphone, as well as the aforementioned capture LED hardwired to the camera that shines a white light when you’re taking photos or videos to notify people nearby.”

Social network Snapchat already launched a similar device in 2017 – Snapchat Spectacles – that could also capture footage and photos from a first-person perspective.

They sold poorly, with Snapchat reportedly losing around $40m on unsold inventory, although this did not stop them from releasing several revamped versions over the years. Further sales figures remain unavailable.

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