The first smart glasses suitable for everyday use that you can buy

At first glance, the Ray-Ban Meta looks like ordinary sunglasses.
At first glance, the Ray-Ban Meta looks like ordinary sunglasses.

At first glance, the Ray-Ban Meta looks like ordinary sunglasses.

Wearables have long since developed from futuristic gadgets to everyday companions. But as someone who has previously avoided Facebook or Meta products for data protection reasons, I was particularly suspicious when I heard that Meta was bringing smart glasses onto the market in cooperation with the well-known eyewear brand Ray-Ban.

I was very skeptical because Facebook’s negative image when it comes to data protection resonates and then I should wear cameras and microphones on my face? Certainly not! At least for now. Curiosity won and I decided to give these smart glasses a chance.

To my surprise, I was pleasantly surprised by how Meta and Ray-Ban managed to combine technology and style without compromising privacy. Now I’m sharing my personal experience with the Meta-Ray-Ban smart glasses, a device that made me reconsider my reservations, at least temporarily.

What’s in the box?

  • Ray-Ban | Goal Shine
  • Glasses case
  • cleaning cloth
  • Guidance books

(box contents)
(box contents)






(box contents)

One thing immediately surprised me positively. The smart glasses almost look like normal Ray-Ban glasses. The iconic design has been perfectly captured and does not give the impression that it contains modern technology with a camera, microphones and even small speakers.

(compare with normal Ray-Ban)
(compare with normal Ray-Ban)






(compare with normal Ray-Ban)

The camera is found in the corner and is perfectly integrated into the typical design. An LED is integrated on the opposite side, which always shows when you take a photo or video. Covering it is not possible because in this case the camera function is also deactivated.

The frame is slightly wider to accommodate the battery and speakers. On the hinges inside you will not only find the unique reference to the meta collaboration, but also an on/off switch so that you can wear the glasses without any smart features. But what’s the fun in that?

A capture button is integrated into the right frame to take a photo or video without a voice command. There is also a touchpad built into the side of the frame to control music playback or change the volume. Both work pretty well.

Despite all the technology, the Ray-Ban | Meta very comfortable and even over a longer period of time they are no more uncomfortable than normal glasses.

By the way, I used the traditional Wayfarer in glossy black with G-15 Green lenses. There are also other color and glass variants as well as models in the headliner design to choose from. Transparent lenses and lenses that change color when exposed to sunlight are also possible – as is the use of corrective lenses by the optician.

Overall, the lenses do not differ from those of normal glasses or sunglasses and offer UVA and UVB protection. I didn’t notice anything different when I was wearing them in the sunshine, so I tended to forget that I was wearing smart glasses.

Good. Smart may be saying too much. It’s more like glasses with useful technology that makes headphones and the smartphone camera unnecessary. Or at least tried to.

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The camera might initially be intimidating for many people. You always wear it on your face and see everything you see. Nearly. Despite its ultra-wide-angle lens, the image angle of the 12-megapixel camera is not large enough and it is also pointed rigidly forward.

The 12 megapixel camera is hidden on the left side.
The 12 megapixel camera is hidden on the left side.






The 12 megapixel camera is hidden on the left side.

This always got me thinking when I started recording a video, as I found myself concentrating more on looking straight ahead and moving my head rather than just my eyes to capture the right image. If you forget this, the photos won’t be ruined, but they might not be as beautiful as you saw them.

Another limitation is the camera itself. It has a resolution of 12 megapixels, which is only fully used for photos (3,024 x 4,032 pixels). For videos you have to limit yourself to 1,440 x 1,920 pixels at 30 frames per second. In fact, these are not numbers twisted, but the standard recording is in 3:4 portrait format. Hopefully Meta will improve this in future models and deliver 4K resolution, a higher frame rate, perhaps even a slow motion mode and more image formats.

The recordings are saved on the integrated 32 GB memory and are automatically synchronized with the Meta View app. If you set up the WLAN for the glasses, not only can the media be imported, but updates can also be installed automatically as soon as the glasses are in the network and in the charging case.

Apropos Ladecase: The battery of the glasses lasts three to four hours. It is charged in the included charging case. The push button on the outside shows the charging process using an LED. Thanks to the charging case, Meta promises a total running time of up to 36 hours, which roughly corresponds to reality. To charge the charging case, a USB-C port is integrated on the bottom. Unfortunately, there is no option to charge the case wirelessly and will hopefully be implemented in the next generation. I can very well imagine charging using Qi2.

In addition to the camera, the Ray-Ban | Meta has a special feature: you can also listen to music with it. The open sound design really impressed me. Not only does it sound incredibly spacious, but also very natural and pleasant. Therefore, I used the feature at least as often as the camera.

The speakers are complemented by integrated microphones. This means you can also make phone calls with your glasses. As with music, you should keep in mind that the open design not only allows you to listen in, but also makes understanding a little more difficult in a noisy atmosphere, as no ambient noise can be filtered or suppressed.

The speakers are located in the brackets.  In front of it you can see small openings for the microphones.
The speakers are located in the brackets.  In front of it you can see small openings for the microphones.






The speakers are located in the brackets. In front of it you can see small openings for the microphones.

The combination of microphones and speakers makes even more possible: You can use Meta’s voice assistant to take photos and videos, make calls or even send messages. In everyday life this works rather poorly, as you can only speak of assistance to a limited extent here. Currently only the few voice commands mentioned are executed. A question about the weather or something similar is currently going nowhere.

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Finally, I would like to say a few words about the app. This is very simple and offers access to your recordings as well as many setting options. There you can change the behavior of the record button, which I did right away to assign a single press to take a photo, while a long press records a video. By default this is the other way around.

App






In the app you can see the charge status, carry out updates, view your recordings and of course adjust your privacy settings.

App






You can also customize the gestures, LEDs, wear detection and video duration.

You can also adjust the touchpad, set the video length between 30 and 60 seconds, carry out updates or change the brightness of the notification LED. There is one important thing you cannot change: the warning LED for recordings is not customizable.

The app offers almost everything you can imagine in connection with glasses. Unfortunately, it’s a shame that Meta currently only allows a direct connection to Spotify to start music playback, while other music apps can only be controlled during operation but cannot be started.

Editorial conclusion


Benjamin Otterstein
@benotterstein

At the beginning I mentioned that data protection is very important to me. Meta takes this very seriously with the glasses. Any access to the microphone, phone, messaging apps must be activated in the app, while the bright warning LED cannot be switched off or covered to always signal your surroundings: Hey, I’m recording right now. Meta does a great job with this and proves that privacy can also be respected.

The not-so-smart glasses have proven to be a great companion in everyday life and have often become a replacement for my previous Ray-Bans. It’s surprisingly comfortable to wear and quickly kicks in as a speakerphone – long before I’ve pressed my Apple Watch to answer a call.

However, there is one thing that I don’t really like. Voice input doesn’t support enough commands and could be a lot more helpful with a real assistant like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Meta wastes a lot of potential here – similar to the camera, which would like to have a higher resolution and more setting options.

In general, the glasses make me feel very positive about the future of wearables. Together with Ray-Ban, Meta delivers a timeless design, does not overload the glasses with unnecessary functions and, to my surprise, keeps the privacy of the user and their surroundings in mind.

With a price starting at 330 euros, the glasses are slightly more expensive than normal Ray-Bans and offer many new options. Would you put the glasses on or even use them in everyday life or do you think they are just a gimmick? Feel free to write your opinion in the comments.

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