Reading Facebook’s announcement yesterday about its new Ray-Ban smart glasses made me cringe on a couple of levels. First, Facebook just wants everyone to spend more time on its platform, which as we all know, is not a healthy place to be. Secondly, the new smart glasses are another step toward the “metaverse,” which sounds creepily similar to “The Matrix.”
Facebook said in its announcement that its Ray-Ban Stories are “smart glasses that give you a new way to capture photos and video, share your adventures and listen to music or take phone calls — so you can stay present with friends, family and the world around you.”
As someone who’s practiced meditation and mindfulness for a number of years, may I just say that walking around with digital glasses on your head, simultaneously recording videos and taking phone calls is not a way to “stay present.” It sounds more like a way to step off the curb, break your ankle and get run over by a truck. Remember the “Pokemon Go” craze where some people were so engrossed that they accidentally walked off a cliff?
Facebook touts the fact that you can “record the world as you see it,” and the technology can even be used hands-free with Facebook Assistant voice commands. Essentially, we can all be connected to Facebook 24×7, which is exactly how Facebook likes it. Although its track-record on social responsibility is not great.
Privacy: The lady doth protest too much
Facebook says that it designed Ray-Ban Stories with privacy in mind: “A hard-wired LED lights up to let people nearby know when you’re taking a photo or video.”
It’s acknowledging right up front that people’s privacy may be compromised because their images could be captured in photos and videos of which they are unaware and without their consent. It’s even created a special privacy website to answer questions and concerns.
I’m betting the Facebook detractors in congress will have a field-day with this.
Although the folks at the CIA and FBI may find these glasses really useful for spying activities.
According to an Axios story, Jeremy Greenberg, privacy counsel for the Future of Privacy Forum, said the LED light that flickers when users are recording could easily be missed by people at a distance or by people with low vision or those just not paying attention. “Hopefully we don’t have folks using these for stalking,” he told Axios.
The metaverse future
Technology is going to keep marching forward, no matter if it has both positive and negative effects — which it undoubtedly will.
Zuckerberg’s new shades are part of a “metaverse” wave that’s gaining velocity. In this new reality technologies such as 3D and artificial intelligence will allow participants to interact in virtual universes.
Telecom operators should be paying attention because the metaverse traffic will be traversing their networks.
Facebook this week has amped-up the metaverse conversation. Let’s just hope one side-effect of the metaverse isn’t a Matrix-like dystopian world, where we’re so engrossed in our “stories” that we don’t notice our actual lives are being controlled by malevolent actors.
Ray Bans vs. iPhones
Facebook timed its Ray-Band announcement to beat Apple’s annual new product event, which is scheduled for September 14.
We’ll see if the latest iPhone has any new technology using AI or anything metaverse-related.
For its part, Facebook’s Ray-Ban Stories glasses start at $299 and will be available for purchase in 20 styles online and in select retail stores in the U.S, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy and the UK. Ray-Ban Stories pairs with the new Facebook View app available on iOS and Android.