(Pocket-lint) - Smart glasses aren't necessarily a new concept, but despite Snapchat's efforts with Spectacles no one has really managed to make them a mainstream success as of yet. Facebook's hoping to change that tune, though, with the first big fruits from its partnership with Ray-Ban.
Ray-Ban Stories are the result, a new line of sunglasses that pack twin 5MP cameras, speakers and microphones for calls, and touch controls to let you record your point of view whenever you like in still images and video, ready for sharing however you like.
We knew this partnership was coming, and we know that Facebook sees the end-goal as full augmented reality glasses, but for now they're more like improved versions of Snapchat's hardware, with the all-important boast that they use frames and designs that are already world-famous and popular.
Taking the standard Wayfarer as an example, the Stories version weighs just 5g more, and is slightly chunkier, but otherwise looks almost the same as a standard pair of sunnies. The twin cameras are noticeable, and the LED that lights up to show you're capturing something does too when it's on, but they're genuinely pretty subtle.
The other frames being offered initially are Round and Meteor, and in all cases they're available with dark lenses, polarised, variable and prescription options, so if you want these for constant use that's on the cards. That said, we asked if they're waterproof and Ray-Ban confirmed that you'll want to avoid splashing them, so maybe they're not ideal for all conditions.
You can take photos and videos up to 30 seconds in length, which go to a new Facebook View for you to review and share on your smartphone, so there's no auto-sharing here, which Facebook was keen to stress is a privacy-based decision.
The included charging case can top the glasses back up, and has enough juice to do so three times before it needs its own power-up, and it does all look like a fairly slick package. Whether it holds up to sustained use is something we'll be able to confirm soon, too - we're testing a pair out for review right now.
Ray-Ban Stories start from $299 and are available to order direct from Ray-Ban now, so check them out if your curiosity is piqued.
Writing by Max Freeman-Mills. Originally published on 9 September 2021.