Simon Jones: Sad Stories
Author: Simon Jones
I admit it – I remember being excited by Google Glass. Back in 2013, when gadgets and smartphones meant something to people, I could see Google Glass fitting into everyday lives. But, because I need vision correction, not in my everyday life – unless a monstrous clip-on frame was deemed a suitable solution.
Google Glass was an abject commercial flop for many reasons, not least privacy concerns and looking a bit, you know, not very cool. But there was some potential in the functionality and once the size of componentry could be reduced, a decent looking smart eyewear frame was viable.
A few companies attempted to pick up the baton – Snap with its playful camera Spectacles (a bit toy-like) and North, with a functional projection unit for directions and messages (a bit utilitarian). But nothing really stuck and it was only when EssilorLuxottica teamed up with Facebook, did people start to take notice of smart eyewear.
The fruits of that partnership, Ray-Ban Stories were unveiled this week and they’re very underwhelming. The good thing is that the frames are massive leap forwards in terms of tech integration. The temples are only slightly more voluminous, and the two cameras and microphones and all-important recording light are discreet. It’s pretty much a classic Wayfarer. That minimalism has come at a cost – lack of wow factor augmented reality technology. To all intents and purposes, Stories are a better-looking version of Snap Spectacles.
The idea of being secretly recorded by someone wearing Google Glass was one of its death knells, so the little recording light on these new frames should provide some confidence. Until you realise that light can be covered very easily – although Facebook says that will breach the Terms of Service Agreement. Yes, we now have sunglasses with terms and conditions.
You may have seen that digital detoxing and ‘dumb phones’ are all the rage at the moment. I think I’ll take the same approach to smart eyewear and claim that I was way ahead of the curve.