Facebook Enters Wearable Tech Space With New Smart Sunglasses

Facebook Enters Wearable Tech Space With New Smart Sunglasses

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Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has entered the wearable technology market with new smart sunglasses that are focused on capturing photos rather than augmented reality.

The glasses have been developed in partnership with Ray-Ban and will retail for $299 U.S. They will enable users to take photos and video, listen to music, and answer phone calls. While they lack augmented reality, the technology that overlays digital content onto the physical world, Facebook says it eventually plans to embed that functionality into the shades.

Facebook is entering an increasingly crowded wearable tech market. Snapchat first released its smart glasses, called “Spectacles,” in 2016 with a built-in camera for shooting video. In 2019, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) launched smart glasses to take calls and use Alexa. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) plans to enter the glasses space later this decade with an augmented reality-capable offering.

Facebook’s glasses don’t look much different than classic Ray-Ban sunglasses. But the plain appearance conceals an array of smart features: dual 5-megapixel camera sensors; embedded Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi to synchronize with a phone; enough storage for 500 pictures; and speakers.

Users can snap a photo by pressing and holding a button on the right side of the glasses or can record video. There’s also a touch area on the right side of the glasses for controlling music, a voice assistant and the ability to make calls.

If Facebook is successful in the device market, it will be able to build out its advertising and messaging business without having to rely on operating systems and gadgets created by competitors such as Apple and Google.

The glasses are being launched in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy and Australia, and include a charging case similar to the one that houses AirPods. The glasses on their own get about six hours of battery life with moderate use, and they are not waterproof.

Facebook shares, which are up 39% so far this year, rose less than 1% to $378.64 U.S. on news of the smart glasses.

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