Smart glasses: A brief history

Can Facebook’s new Ray-Ban smart glasses succeed where Google Glass and Snap Spectacles failed?


September 10, 2021

From L to R: Google Glass, Ray-Ban Stories, Snap Spectacles

On Thursday, Facebook and Ray-Ban revealed their highly anticipated collaboration, Ray-Ban Stories. These are sunglasses that:

  • Are equipped with 2 front-facing cameras for photo and video (and bluetooth speakers in its frames to take calls)
  • Sync with a photo roll (Facebook View) that can share across all FB apps
  • Cost $299

There’s no Facebook branding on the product…maybe because Zuck is trying to avoid the curse of his predecessors:

  • Google Glass (launched 2013): Retailing at $1.5k, it was never clear what the search giant wanted people to use the glasses for.

The battery life (3-5 hours) didn’t provide for a truly augmented reality (AR) experience, even though you could check messages and surf the net.

The final nail in the coffin was probably that people caught wearing them were called “Glassholes.” Google discontinued the line in 2015.

  • Snap Spectacles (launched 2016): The social app unveiled trendy glasses that could snap photos, but really not much else.

A delayed rollout killed the hype. As with Google Glass before it, privacy concerns (AKA “are you recording me”) also hurt demand.

Only 0.08% of Snapchat users bought the product, per TechCrunch.

Today, Google Glass has pivoted to enterprise use cases while Snap is rebooting Spectacles with a focus on AR.

Apple may also be getting into the game

Not with smart glasses, though. The iPhone maker is rumored to be working on an AR/VR headset.

One designer created a mock-up of the product and… well… at least people can’t call you a “Glasshole” if you wear it.

Source: MacRumors

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