SAN FRANCISCO — Last Saturday, after a three-mile hike through the Presidio, I stood in a crowd of tourists looking at the Golden Gate Bridge. As the group snapped photos of the landmark, I decided to join in.
But instead of reaching into my pocket for my iPhone, I tapped the side of my Ray-Ban sunglasses until I heard the click of a shutter. Later, I downloaded the photos my sunglasses had just taken to my phone.
The process was instant, simple, unobtrusive — and it was powered by Facebook, which has teamed up with Ray-Ban. Their new line of eyewear,and unveiled on Thursday, can take photos, record video, answer phone calls, and play music and podcasts.
It all made me feel that I was being dragged into some inevitable future dreamed up by people much more techie than me, one in which the seams between the natural world and the technology that supports it had all but vanished.
For years, Silicon Valley has chased a vision similar to that of a William Gibson novel, where sensors and cameras are woven into billions ofand clothes. Yet, the that have pursued these ideas have often failed to achieve them, as people have shunned wearable computers — especially on their faces.
Remember San Francisco at one point barring Glass-wearers — also pejoratively known as “Glassholes” — from entry. Later came Snap’s Spectacles, that focused more on fashion and the novelty of recording 10-second video clips. That product, too, never really broke through.while jumping from an airplane? That project foundered, with bars in
Now Facebook aims to usher in an era when people grow more comfortable sharing their lives digitally, beginning with what is in front of their faces.
“How do we build a product that helps people be in the moment they’re in?” Andrew Bosworth, head ofLabs, said in an interview. “Isn’t that better than taking out your phone and whenever you want to capture a moment?”
Mr. Bosworth design like this before,” he said, adding that Facebook and Ray-Ban were focused more on the fashion of eyewear than the tech inside the frames.was picking up where others had left off. “This product has not been tried before because we’ve never had a
“Eyewear is a particular category that changes how you look,” said Rocco Basilico, chief wearables officer at Luxottica, which owns Ray-Ban and wants to expand into the wearables market. “We started thisfrom the design and refused to compromise on that design.”
Let’s be honest for a second. The Wayfarer glasses start at $299 and come in over 20 styles, facing hurdles apart from Silicon Valley’s stop-start history with. Facebook has long been scrutinized for its treatment of people’s . Using mirrors to film people secretly , not to mention what Facebook might do with the videos people collect. I asked if Facebook’s brand baggage was why its name wasn’t in the . The company said that wasn’t the case.